I am really struggling to understand a passage of a book called Ohnehin by Doron Rabinovici. The sentence goes:

Im Spital hatte er von seinen Plänen zu sprechen gewußt, noch während er sie entwarf, und so hatte er sich vor Professor Kahlbauer heiß geredet, doch nun schienen ihm seine Gedanken abgestanden.

I really can’t figure out what is meant by “so hatte er sich vor Professor Kahlbauer heiß geredet.” Should I look for sich heißreden? I cannot find anything!

I guess it means that he was very agitated while talking before the professor … Is that right? The rest of the sentence is clear: “In the hospital he had been able to talk about his ideas, while he was still developing them … Now though his thought seemed ‘flat’ (not interesting, maybe?).”

  • 7
    Sich heiter reden is no expression I'd ever heard.
    – tofro
    Commented Jun 23, 2016 at 15:50
  • I found it on my Duden dictionary. Now I don´t have it with me, but as soon as I do I will check it up again.
    – E.V.
    Commented Jun 24, 2016 at 8:31
  • duden.de/rechtschreibung/heiszreden
    – Iris
    Commented Jun 24, 2016 at 11:07
  • 1
    Which part does heiter reden play in your question?
    – Jan
    Commented Jun 24, 2016 at 21:33
  • 2
    @userunknown: Ich kenne "sich heiß reden" im Sinne von "sich in Rage reden". "sich heiter reden" habe ich allerdings auch noch nie gehört.
    – waka
    Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 7:39

6 Answers 6


There's an idiomatic expression

sich die Köpfe heißreden

meaning a very fierce (ardent / fervent) discussion, almost an argument or dispute. But this requires antagonistic elements, two or more people with different views regarding an issue. I don't think this fits the situation described in the question.

The context is very sparse... but i assume it means that the acting person was very enthuastic and driven when talking to Prof. K. about his plans. Now, those plans look boring or maybe unrealistic or visionary (in a negative sense).


"Heiß reden" in this case means, that he was trying to reason with somebody. To convince somebody, who has another opinion.

  • 1
    Agree and disagree. One way of sich heiß reden might be trying to reason or convince someone of something. It does, however, not necessarily imply a dispute or even disagreement on the receiving party. It could also imply he was just so overly enthusiastic about the topic that he couldn't stop talking about it.
    – tofro
    Commented Jun 23, 2016 at 20:02

sich heiß reden

Ich rede mich heiß, if I start talking more or less calmly but get increasingly excited while speaking. This excitement leads to blood rushes that can be seen and felt. I can get red ears, a blotchy red neckline or a red face and the greater blood supply comes with higher temperatures:

I'm talking myself hot

This very litteral translation might not be used as a phrase at all, but it clarifies the connotations of sich heiß reden quite plainly.

  • sich heiß reden: I think I haven't heard this before. It's plausible as either unremarkable Austrian German or as the kind of expression that an excellent writer may coin, sometimes modelled after another language in which they are also fluent. Similar to heißlaufen (run hot), as something that happens to engines, it clearly describes the situation when you talk yourself into agitation.
  • sich heiter reden: I don't think this is a standard expression, and it doesn't seem very plausible as an Austriacism, either. It also does not fit into the context as an ad hoc coinage. Were someone to use it, I would expect that it describes the somewhat analogous situation when you talk yourself into myrth.
  • sich heiser reden: This is a variant of the standard expression sich heiser schreien (scream/yell oneself hoarse). It would be applicable if someone gets hoarse from talking too much. (I am adding this as I suspect it is somehow to blame for your bringing up the previous point.)

Clearly the first meaning is intended. A writer is free to write heißreden in a single word to stress the analogy to heißlaufen, but automatic spelling correction will disagree. How to translate this:

He had talked himself into excitement, but now his thoughts appeared stale to him.


The literal meaning of "heiß reden" is to "speak hotly" about something that one is passionate or "hot" about.

Here, one is trying to convince someone of something using the "heat" or strength of his passion, rather than through logical argument.

  • Ich bezweifle etwas, dass "to speak hotly" ein englischsprachiges Idiom ist. Belege? Die schroffe NGram-Kurve books.google.com/ngrams/… hat den typischen Verlauf einer Sammlung von Ausreißern. Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 1:16

We have to split this sentence in parts.

"Im Spital hatte er von seinen Plänen zu sprechen gewußt, noch während er sie entwarf, und so hatte er sich vor Professor Kahlbauer heiß geredet, doch nun schienen ihm seine Gedanken abgestanden."

  1. The first part is, that this person is scheduled to having a speech:

"Im Spital hatte er von seinen Plänen zu sprechen gewußt, noch während er sie entwarf"

  1. The second part is his preparation towards this speech:

"..und so hatte er sich vor Professor Kahlbauer heiß geredet,.."

  1. The last part is the none relevant situation this person is facing after:

"..doch nun schienen ihm seine Gedanken abgestanden."

Instead having a passionate talk / explanation about a topic, which the above answers trying to explain, we need to put this into the context of 1 and 2.

This person is preparing a speech and could argue or even doing a sample speech in front of Professor Kahlbauer (i.e. similar to a person in front of a mirror). He orders his thoughts and build his speech. Now this person feels that all his preparation and "brainstorming" with or in front of the Prof. was useless, he might feels unprepared or having doubts about his speech (this is the item 3).

In the nutshell, rather than having a passionate argue, the term "heißlaufen" kann also be meant to get ready, similar to start the engine of a car, but than decide not to drive.

  • While the split is correct, the translation deviates from what I find in the given sentence, therefore I can't follow the conclusions: 1) In the hospital he had managed to talk about his plans while elaborating them - no formal speech, no schedule, anything had already happened, e.g. a conversation with a different person 2) And so he had talked himself into rage/heat/excitement in front of Professor Kahlbauer 3) But now he considered his own musings stale/flat
    – guidot
    Commented Feb 8, 2017 at 22:19

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