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I'm looking for a phrase pertaining to an object that would release someone from any responsibility, and I'm not sure if "aus dem Gefängnis kostenlos Karte" or something would really fit the bill.

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    'Narrenfreiheit' haben. – TaW Jan 21 '17 at 8:26
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einen Freibrief haben.

In the middle ages, a Freibrief released bond-slaves of their masters. It was proof and garantee for their freedom. The word is still used in the sense you asked for.

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    Although it is practically never used in the monopoly content the question implies. – Jan Jan 20 '17 at 21:56
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    @jan I don't see any implication of monopoly. Except that the author referres to it as an english expression for (I cite): a phrase pertaining to an object that would release someone from any responsibility – Kristina Jan 20 '17 at 21:59
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    That is just the expression's origin. He is ooking for a German expression with the same meaning. – TaW Jan 21 '17 at 8:28
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    It has the same meaning. I added the origin only for further understanding – Kristina Jan 21 '17 at 8:46
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There are several synonyms although no word with the exact same meaning except for the German version of the monopoly card:

Du-kommst-aus-dem-Gefängnis-frei-Karte

The Synonyms are:

Freibrief: Rather means, that somebody won't be held responsible for mistakes or wrongdoings.
Persilschein: Can be used as Freibrief or rather as the original meaning of a certificate not to have done mistakes or wrongdoings in the past.
Freifahrt(s)schein: Rather means, that somebody is allowed to do many things (without control.)

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    Ich würde das niedliche mistakes durch crime/Verbrechen ersetzen und past durch deutschen Faschismus o.ä. – user unknown Jan 21 '17 at 4:38
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    I'd like to object that Persilschein has a (rather recent) historic meaning,and in post-World War2 Germany referred to an official document saying that you were innocent of actually being a Nazi although you e.g. were an officer in the Wehrmacht.It has a specific connotation of "we bureaucratically absolve people who were important in the Third Reich of their past",and thus is actually something you do not want to be given–it says "hey,you're probably an abhorrable person,but since we can't or don't want to prove it,here's your Persilschein" – Marcus Müller Jan 21 '17 at 16:05
  • @MarcusMüller That's what I meant with original meaning. But I will clarify that. – Toscho Jan 22 '17 at 14:02
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German has two related phrases that can be used, depending on the context:

  • einen Freibrief haben (in Austria [and some other regions], its 'Freipass' instead of 'Freibrief')
  • Narrenfreiheit haben

The other answers that try to construct the same phrase from monopoly are not idiomatic german. Disregard them. If you want to use the name of the Monopoly card, its the 'Du-kommst-aus-dem-Gefägnis-frei' card. However, its literally just the card and has no metaphoric usage and is not idiomatic german when used outside of the context of the game.

Note that both aren't exactly the same. The first one is a bit closer to the literal meaning of the english metaphor, while the second one means more "jemanden gewähren lassen".

Some usage examples:

"Der Abschluss einer Rechtsschutzversicherung - gleich welcher Art - sollte nicht als Freibrief zum Streiten gesehen werden"

"Für die syrische Opposition ist Russlands und Chinas Veto gegen eine neue Uno-Resolution ein 'Freibrief für ungestraftes Töten"

"Die Enkel genießen bei der Großmutter Narrenfreiheit"

3

der Freipass

Technically, this is a document that lets you bring items into the country without paying duties. Metaphorically it can absolve you of other responsibilities. Example (found by googling it and clicking on Books) Ein weniger glücklich verheirateter Mensch bekommt durch diesen Vers nicht den (vielleicht erwünschten) Freipass, den Partner zu vernachlässigen [...].

Any references to Monopoly cards don't work the same in German. Don't use them.

2

This is the name of a card in the game »Monopoly«, but it hasn't an official name. Its just a card with this text:

Du kommst aus dem Gefängnis frei.
(translation): You get released from jail.

So there is no »for free« in the text of the German card, and this is the reason, why you won't find this part in any German names for this card.


German has a feature, that English (and most other languages) don't have: Compound nouns. This means: One term ist most often only one word in German, but a word that is merged together from two or more other words. »Get out of Jail free card« is one term. So the chances are very high, that it's German translation will be one word.

The most common name for this card is:

Die Du-kommst-aus-dem-Gefängnis-frei-Karte.

This is one word, but separated with hyphens to make it more readable. But there is also a shorter version without hyphens.

What must be in this word? (What is important in this term?)

This should be clear, this has to be in the word:

  • jail = Gefängnis
  • card = Karte

Then we need:

get out

There are more than one ways to translate this:

  • herauskommen (literal translation of »get out«)
  • freikommen (literal: »get free«)

But the part »kommen« (here: to get) is less important. The core of the meaning is in »heraus« or »frei« (out).

And there is also:

for free

This is one of this:

  • gratis
  • kostenlos
  • umsonst
  • ohne Bezahlen zu müssen

But this is the least important part of the term, and it is not part of the text in the German Monopoly-card. In the German translation it is not used.

We only use:

  • Gefängnis
  • heraus or frei
  • Karte

If you merge those words to one word, you get:

  1. Gefängnisherauskarte
  2. Gefängnisfreikarte

But #1 sounds bumpy and rough, and the original text is not »Du kommst aus dem Gefängnis heraus«, but »Du kommst aus dem Gefängnis frei«. So #2 is the better choice.

The literal translation is:

jail-release-card

  • Is this idiomatic similar to the English phrase? – jpmc26 Jan 20 '17 at 21:37
  • @jpmc26: In the game Monopoly this is not idiomatic. You really can get out of the Monopoly-jail if you own this card. Outside of this game, in the real world, this of course is idiomatic. You can't get out of a real jail just by showing a card. – Hubert Schölnast Jan 20 '17 at 21:43
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    Erm... by "idiomatic," I meant, "Would it be commonly understood the way the OP intends?" All the analysis about constructing the correct final word made me skeptical that this is a commonly used saying. But I suppose that's a bit of a silly question in retrospect. =) – jpmc26 Jan 20 '17 at 21:48
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    The word Gefängnisfreikarte is not used at all, afaik. The idiomatic term is "Du-kommst-aus-dem-Gefängnis-frei-Karte". Beside, I think that the OP is rather looking for semantically similar instead of morphologially similar words. – Toscho Jan 20 '17 at 22:12
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    "Du-kommst-aus-dem-Gefängnis-frei-Karte" may be idiomatic when referring to the actual Monopoly game card, but it certainly isn't idiomatic for the metaphorical usage. It would only be understood by people aware of the English metaphorical usage and meaning who are able to make the connection. As such, using it metaphorically in German would not be proper German and only acceptable as part of an in-joke or similar context with limited, selected audience. – das-g Jan 21 '17 at 11:33
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The german equivalent of "Get out of Jail free card" is the

„Du-kommst-aus-dem-Gefängnis-frei-Karte“

abbreviated version:

"Gefängnisfreikarte"

"Komme aus dem Gefängnis frei" equivalent to "Get released from jail"

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    Das ist missverständlich, denn eine Freikarte lässt einen normalerweise kostenlos rein, nicht raus. Z.B. Freikarte für Konzert = Konzertfreikarte. – Iris Jan 20 '17 at 19:33
  • Das mag sein, aber es ist die gängige Bezeichnung für diese Karte. – Artery Jan 20 '17 at 19:34
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    Nein, ich kenne die Monopolykarte als du-kommst-aus-dem-Gefängnis-frei-Karte – Iris Jan 20 '17 at 19:36
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    Noch nie gehört. He wants an idiomatic equivalent, not the Monopoly card. – TaW Jan 21 '17 at 8:25
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    So wie die Frage formuliert ist, ist nicht die eigentliche Bezeichnung der Monopoly-Spielkarte gesucht, sondern eine Übersetzung der übertragenen (nicht-wörtlichen) Bedeutung i.S.e. festen Ausdrucks. --- The way the question is phrased, the OP is probably looking for a translation of the metaphorical usage of the phrase, not of the actual Monopoly game card. – das-g Jan 21 '17 at 11:37
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I'm not aware of a direct translation. But Narrenfreiheit fits the bill.

This phrase is also used in English. Even though I haven't heard it myself so far.

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