Felix ist der beste Gitarrist unter der Sonne.

I wonder if "unter der Sonne" can be coupled with "der beste ..." as a figurative expression with the meaning of "the best there is in the world"?

  • In my opinion this is a variation of the phrase "Nichts Neues unter der Sonne". This phrase is normally used to express that there is nothing new, all is old known. So, if Felix is known since long to be the best guitarist, you can use it (he is the best and remains it). If Felix is a newcomer, then I think this expression doesn't fit. – IQV Mar 24 '17 at 8:57
  • @IQV Thanks. So do you use it in a context such as: "Uns allen ist bewusst, dass Felix der beste Gitarrist unter der Sonne ist."? – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Mar 24 '17 at 9:04
  • When this is well known since long: yes. – IQV Mar 24 '17 at 9:06
  • It's not wrong but it isn't common either. – Janka Mar 24 '17 at 13:54
  • @IQV: Wenn es um Neues ginge, hättest Du recht, aber hier geht es um den besten unter der Sonne. Dass der beste unter der Sonne irgendeine Bekanntheit vorraussetzt, geschweige eine schon lange andauernde, ist einfach nur Quatsch. Problematisch ist die Phrase vielleicht nur für Musiker, die bekanntermaßen ausschließlich in Nachtclubs auftreten, also nie unter der Sonne spielen. Würde aber wohl auch kaum wem auffallen. – user unknown Mar 24 '17 at 22:32

In my opinion, you can use der/die/das beste unter der Sonne as a sentence most people will understand in German, although it sounds a bit antiquated is lyrical/metaphorical (thanks to @hiergiltdiestfu and @jonathan.scholbach from the comments and therefore sounds a bit artificial.

The phrase unter der Sonne as a synonym to auf der Welt originates from the Bible (in Prediger 1,9). It is used to say that nothing special is going on: Nichts los unter der Sonne.

  • 2
    I don't even think it sounds antiquated. Being unaware of the biblical origin, I would have placed it as lyrical phrase. – hiergiltdiestfu Mar 24 '17 at 14:20
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    Another prominent occurrence, besides Prediger, is J.W.Goethe's poem Prometheus: "Ich kenne nichts Ärmeres unter der Sonne / als euch, Götter". (Notabene the anti-transcendent connotations here!) The phrase will always sound a bit artificial due to the fact that it's a metaphor - but it's correct german and will be well-understood. – jonathan.scholbach Mar 24 '17 at 16:00
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    @hiergiltdiestfu & @ jonathan.scholbach: I agree, that it's more lyrical than antiquated for most German speaking people, so I edited the corresponding clause. :) – biolauri Mar 24 '17 at 16:37

You could rephrase your sentence to

Felix ist der weltweit beste Gitarrist.

or to

Felix ist der weltbeste Gitarrist.

The meaning stays the same (the best in the world), but these two are commonly used, yours rarely and mostly in poetic context.

The contribution of @Christian Geiselmann (comment below) is the standard version, just didn't think of it.

We replace the sun by the moon¹

Besides »unter der Sonne« the latin »sub luna« (under the moon) is found occasionally, e. g.

Sub luna nichts Neues

referring to

Nihil novi sub luna
(There is nothing new under the moon)

»Sub luna nichts Neues« or »nichts Neues unter der Sonne« can either be a saying for »aktuell gibt es keine Neuigkeiten« or for »alles schon mal dagewesen«. This last one may be a comment on a presidents uninspired New Year speech containing nothing but the hackneyed phrases of his predecessors.

¹Sounds like a message from hostile ETs

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    The most unmarked way of saying it would though be Felix ist der beste Gitarrist der Welt. The other examples are a little bit artificial in style. – Christian Geiselmann Mar 24 '17 at 10:37
  • @ChristianGeiselmann: Artificial? I think it's the name, look at: »Fritzchen ist der weltweit beste Gitarrist.« – Pollitzer Mar 24 '17 at 21:21
  • I've never ever heard the phrase "Sub luna nichts Neues" (or similar). This must be somewhat heavily localized either geographically or socially. – Sven Mar 25 '17 at 13:03
  • @Sven: »Sub luna« is even more exotic than »unter der Sonne«, also found more written than spoken and is nothing for the »Kegelklub«. But one can use it, will be understood at least by »Latin speakers« and – I like it. – Pollitzer Mar 25 '17 at 15:53

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