In translating-interpreting Berlinerisch German to English text I came across the expression "Haare auf den Zähnen" in a paragraph about what the author describes as need of early Berliners -- who came from all parts of Europe; France, Switzerland, Holland, Bohemia, Silesia, Poland, and the Mark, and who had left those countries as the enterprising, determined, and energetic elite -- that those who wanted to assert themselves needed to have "... their elbows and mouths next to their brains". My standard German source is a cold-war era book which has a chapter on the Berlinerisch dialect; the context of the expression is the lead sentence in a paragraph:

»Daß die Berliner Haare auf den Zähnen haben und man bei ihnen mit der Delikatesse nichts weit reiche, hat bereits Goethe festgestellt. Diese Haare aber brauchten sie auch. Berlin war Kolonialland ...«

Coincidentally, a second question is where geographically would have been (or still is) the region known as "the Mark"?

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    The Mark is most probably die Mark Brandenburg
    – Eller
    Jan 7, 2018 at 23:30
  • Thank you very much for your two quite helpful comments. The de.wiktionary link was very useful; used Google translator and highlighted "Nehmen", and I believe the definition of that term in respect to "Haar ..." would mean 'tough in negotiations'. The Mark Brandenburg link was exceptionally useful, as it provided me with a number of 'links to other links'. The subjects of those other links led me to think about and then enter "Berliner dialect", which gave me a bonanza of not only knowledge, but an extremely useful Wikimedia .jpg to include in my book. Also, mein 'vielen dank' für daß. Jan 8, 2018 at 23:09
  • @Eller: A learning experience I had from reading your explanation is the term "Mark", as used in the term for the former German currency, the "Deutschmark" (DM). I have often wondered about the origins of the word "Mark"; your link to the de.Wikipedia article "Mark Brandenburg" was a great history-help for me. Thank you. Jan 11, 2018 at 16:34

2 Answers 2


It means "having a sharp tongue".

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    It not only means having it, but also using it, so strident and battlesome come to mind, or generally being a tough cookie.
    – tofro
    Jan 8, 2018 at 9:46

This expression originally was mostly used for women that were very quick-witted to mock them by implying that they are so manly that they have hairs even on their teeth.


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