I had a German exchange student in my class and he always used "schlagen" in a weird way and it was hard to understand him. I know "schlagen" means "to fight" in English but what does it mean in German slang?

  • 12
    We may need some context from the usage of "schlagen" to tell.
    – Takkat
    Mar 12, 2012 at 7:10
  • 4
    Actually, schlagen doesn't exactly mean to fight, but to hit oder to beat (though sich schlagen does mean to fight: "Die beiden schlugen sich eine Stunde lang.")
    – splattne
    Mar 12, 2012 at 7:36
  • 4
    It can also mean "to beat" as in "I beat him at chess." Mar 12, 2012 at 8:05
  • 2
    Yeah, bot right. And fifteen other things.
    – musiKk
    Mar 12, 2012 at 8:17
  • 3
    @ Gigili: Yes, this schlägt dem barrel the Boden aus!
    – Landei
    Mar 12, 2012 at 9:14

4 Answers 4


I'm going to mention all different usages of this verb I found in dictionary.

transitive verb

  1. (= zuschlagen, prügeln) to hit
  2. (= hauen) to beat
    (mit der flachen Hand) to slap , to smack
    (mit der Faust) to punch
    (mit Hammer, Pickel etc) Loch to knock
  • Die Bombe schlug ein Loch in die Straße (the bomb blew a hole in the road)

  • Jdn bewusstlos schlagen (to knock sb out)

  • Mit vielen Schlägen (to beat sb unconscious)

  • etw in Stücke or kurz und klein schlagen (to smash sth up or to pieces)

  • nach jdm/etw schlagen (to lash out at sb/sth)

  • um sich schlagen to lash out

  • mit dem Hammer auf den Nagel schlagen to hit the nail with the hammer

  • mit der Faust an die Tür/auf den Tisch schlagen to beat on the door/table with one's fist

  • gegen die Tür schlagen to hammer on the door

  • jdm or rare jdn auf die Schulter schlagen (to slap sb on the back , (leichter) to pat sb on the back)

  • jdm etw aus der Hand schlagen (to knock sth out of sb's hand)

  • jdm or rare jdn ins Gesicht schlagen (to hit/slap/punch sb in the face)

  • einer Sache (dative) ins Gesicht schlagen figurative (to be a slap in the face for sth)

  • na ja, ehe ich mich schlagen lasse! (I suppose you could twist my arm - humorous informal)

  1. (= läuten) to chime Stunde to strike

    • eine geschlagene Stunde (a full hour)
  2. (= heftig flattern) mit den Flügeln schlagen (to beat its wings)

intransitive verb

Herz, Puls to beat (heftig) to pound

  • Sein Puls schlug unregelmäßig (his pulse was irregular)

  • Ihr Herz schlägt für den FC Bayern (she's passionate about FC Bayern)

(auxiliary 'sein' or 'haben')(= auftreffen) mit dem Kopf auf/gegen

etw (accusative) schlagen to hit one's head on/against sth

Regen to beat
Wellen to pound
Blitz to strike (in etw (accusative) sth)

(auxiliary 'sein' or 'haben')

  • Er schlägt sehr nach seinem Vater (he takes after his father a lot)

reflexive verb

  1. (= sich prügeln) to fight
    (= sich duellieren) to duel (auf (dative) with)
  • sich um etw schlagen - literal figurative (to fight over sth)

  • er schlägt sich nicht um die Arbeit (he's not crazy about work - informal)

  • sich tapfer or gut schlagen (to make a good showing)

  • sich auf jds Seite (accusative) schlagen (to side with sb , (= die Fronten wechseln) to go over to sb)

  • 3
    Welches davon ist jetzt Slang? Mar 13, 2012 at 5:15
  • 2
    @userunknown: There are many slang meaning along with the lines of my messages, stop downvoting what you do not know, I'll report this.
    – user508
    Mar 13, 2012 at 10:28
  • +1 for a very thorough answer.
    – Aaron
    Mar 13, 2012 at 12:12
  • 2
    @BryceAtNetwork23: Nur leider alles Hochdeutsch. Mar 15, 2012 at 4:11

A few more non-trivial meanings of schlagen (depending on context) could be:

  • an einem Ort aufschlagen: Which means to arrive somewhere
  • im Wesen nach jmd. schlagen: Which means to figuratively follow somebodies steps, to have a similar character.
  • schlagend: Which refers to academic fighting and could be relevant, depending on what kind of class you are talking about (a class in an university or a school-class). A fraternity (Verbindung) is called schlagend if it still employs (maybe optional) academic fighting (although every fibre in me rejects to the translation of this with "academic", but that's what it's called). In this context, schlagen means to hit your opponent with a fencing sword in the face.
  • 1
    Keins davon ist Slang, oder? Mar 13, 2012 at 5:15
  • 1
    @userunknown: Kommt drauf an, was man als Slang auffasst.
    – bitmask
    Mar 13, 2012 at 6:35
  • Die Spannung steigt ... Mar 13, 2012 at 9:29
  • 1
    @userunknown: Ich fürchte, sie wird weiter steigen, da OP bereits eine Antwort angenommen hat, und keine Anstalten macht das Rätsel aufzulösen. Das meintest Du doch, oder?
    – bitmask
    Mar 13, 2012 at 14:06
  • 2
    Aufschlagen fuer "ankommen" ist schon Slang, wenn man jetzt nicht gerade von Projektilen spricht. War es vor 20 Jahren zumindest. Ich geh mal Wasser abschlagen.
    – Jules
    Mar 26, 2012 at 13:35

There are some more context-dependent meanings which have not been addressed:

  • especially in student life, the context may be "schlagende Verbindung" which is a student association where the members actively practice fencing with an Épée (even with the possibility to gain some injuries in the face)

  • "jemandem eine Bitte abschlagen" means "to reject somebody's plea"

  • "ein Angebot ausschlagen" means "to reject an offer"

  • 1
    Und welches davon stufst Du als Slang ein? Alle drei? Mar 16, 2013 at 19:14
  • 2
    Keines davon ist Slang, aber es sind meiner Meinung nach eher untypische Verwendungen.
    – user2650
    Mar 16, 2013 at 20:49
  • 1
    This is not an answer to the question "what is schlagen slang for".
    – uncovery
    Mar 17, 2013 at 3:47
  • 1
    The author said "used in a weird way". So I think this is a better answer then the others because it adresses some unusual uses of the word "schlagen".
    – Alina B.
    Mar 17, 2013 at 4:10

Yiddish has quite a few meanings depending on the prefix.

derschlagen sich zu... means to reach your destination with some effort.

derschlagen as an adjective means depressed or dejected.

vorschlagen (as in German) means to suggest or propose.

ausschlagen can mean to cover as in "to cover your expenses". It can also mean to knock out.

unterschlagen means to line a garment.

uberschlagen means to throw a cover on top of.

abschlagen means to repel or reflect; also, to dissuade. In the reflexive (with sich) it can mean to bounce off. An Abschalg can be a repercussion.

beschlagen can mean to upholster, to cover, or to break out in (a rash).

EDIT: I pulled these out of Weinreich's dictionary, but it seems Harkavey's earlier dictionary has many more expressions, which I'm going to try and list below. Here goes:

  • abschlagen dem mut to break one's spirit

er schlagt ab seine taynos he refutes his arguments

sie schlagt ihm ab vun gehen she dissuades him from leaving

abshlagen wasser to urinate

men schlagt ihm ab die tueren they're beating his door down, he is in great demand

Ausschlag a breakout of pimples

ausschlagen to strike as a clock, to strike the hour in full

aufshclagen zwei brettlach to join two boards

aufschlagen a tur to break down a door

aufschlagen a wort to seek the right word

aufschlagen a summe to collect a sum

Umschlag envelope, wrapper

unterschlagen die augen to give someone a black eye

unterschlagen die parnosseh to ruin someone's business by undercutting him; to embezzle money

uberschlagen to interrupt someone

uberschlagen mit eier to mix with eggs

a dunner hat ihm eingeschlagen he was struck by a thunderbolt

anschlagen to give someone a licking; to secure something to

sich anschlagen to offer one's services

nehmen in beschlag to seize

durchschlagen to force one's way through

sich herausschlagen vun kop to forget about

heraufschlagen to fasten by beating; to fasten by nailing

sich heraufschlagen to get out of bed

sich herumschlagen to fight

herunterschlagen to beat down

hereinschlagen to drive in (a nail)

derschlagen to beat to death

verschlagen to fasten with nails

zerschlagen to break to pieces

zunaufschlagen, zusammenschlagen to fasten together

  • Youse forgettin da most important of dem all: FERSHLUGINER! A refresher course with Messrs. Drucker, Martin, and Jaffee is indicated, methinks. Mar 23, 2013 at 12:56
  • 1
    Touchee. I missed the Mad Magazine reference. Of course, this is a made up word, and Weinreich's dictionary does not include a listing for VERSCHLAGEN. So I was surprised to find on checking with Harkavey that it is indeed a real word; it means to nail something up, to secure by nailing. It turns out that Harkavey has a far more extensive listing of usages for SHLAGEN in all its forms, so I'm going to put them up as an edit to my previous answer. Mar 23, 2013 at 17:25
  • Interesting! In contemporary German we still have "Verschlag" for a small room (nailed with boards), "verschlagen" for sly, and "verschlagen" used in some dialects for "to beat someone up".
    – Takkat
    Mar 23, 2013 at 18:45
  • Yiddish does seem to go to town with the prefixes. The dictionary only gave me the stuff about nails for VERSCHLAGEN but I took a look online and found yet another meaning in this quote from Sholom Aleichem, talking about the effect of penny-romances on the female reader: "...as ihr kop is verschlagen mit fantazyes..." (that her head is stuffed with nonsense". Mar 24, 2013 at 0:53

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