When my German grandma wanted everyone to stop talking (arguing really) and change the subject at the dinner table, she used a German word that sounded like oompsdaggon. She said it meant change the subject or swap the cars in German. Would anyone out there know this word?

1 Answer 1


She probably said umsteigen ([ˈʊmˌʃtaɪ̯ɡən] ↔ oompsdaggon), but that’s merely a guess.

There’s no specific translation, but regarding trains, for instance, umsteigen means “change trains”. You also use it when referring to cars.

So she probably encouraged the animated discussion to change subject, to switch to other topics.

While your grandmother surely knew how to baffle the table round, I don’t think it’s a German saying. An established phrase is Lass uns das Thema wechseln, simply meaning “Let’s change subject”.

  • 1
    That is correct - it was over 40 years ago she used to say that. And it was trains not cars. Thanks so much brings me such fond memories.
    – user21989
    Commented Jun 4, 2016 at 9:57
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    Or Themawechsel or TW for modern, even shorter ways of saying it ;)
    – Jan
    Commented Jun 4, 2016 at 11:26
  • "Change the subject" would be "Das Thema ändern". Saying "umsteigen" in those terms would be very strange sounding.
    – user21997
    Commented Jun 4, 2016 at 17:58
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    @swizzledude: There’s plenty of meanings for “change”. Some of them are ändern, wechseln and tauschen. A little less obvious and far more figuratively, umsteigen would fit as well, be it with this specific instance alone. Anyhow, I didn’t say nothing ’bout that—please see above. I merely produced wechseln for “change”, suggesting an alternative phrase.
    – dakab
    Commented Jun 4, 2016 at 22:34
  • A colloquial American translation might be "Let's switch gears."
    – Tom Au
    Commented Jun 26, 2016 at 2:35

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