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I want a German equivalent for "The devil's in detail", Which literally means:

"This plan sounds simple when you describe what needs to be done at a high level, but actually doing it will be very difficult when it comes to the details"

For instance, when you're told that minor details are not important, you'd use the idiom to say it's not so, Details are important and not considering them will affect the whole problem.

Update: I don't need literal translations of the English idiom, I can find them in dictionaries. I want to know what do Germans say in such situations.


See the question in English Language and Usage for more information

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    simple translation request, can be found in dict.leo.org Mar 14, 2012 at 15:19
  • @Takkat Der Close-Vote ist übrigens von mir. Ich stimme userunknown zu. Die ursprüngliche Frage war ganz einfach mit Dictionary zu lösen, und nachdem das Update eingefügt wurde, hat sich auch nichts wesentliches geändert. Das erkennt man daran, dass JohnSmithers keine wesentliche Änderung machen musste um seine Antwort nicht off-topic werden zu lassen.
    – Em1
    Mar 14, 2012 at 17:51
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    @Takkat: Oh come on. The whole premise is flawed. Dictionaries do list appropriate idioms instead of literal translations. Just look for example for "to be all fingers and thumbs". It's translated as "zwei linke Hände haben" in leo and dict.cc. That's miles from the literal translation. A simple Google search confirms that it's in wide use. There was clearly zero research done before asking the question (cf. meta.german.stackexchange.com/questions/355/…). If you think this site makes no sense like this, we might as well have no restrictions at all.
    – musiKk
    Mar 14, 2012 at 18:38
  • @Takkat: As musiKk pointed out, user508 searched for a translation of the idiom, and told us, that she is able to translate it word by word with a dictionary, but the dictionary provides a translation of the idiom, which just happens to be a nearly word by word translation. Stecken isn't a simple translation for in. Mar 14, 2012 at 20:31
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    Isn't the correct English idiom "The devil's in the details"? Google... yup, Google and the rest of the world seem to agree with my recollection. Mar 15, 2012 at 16:39

2 Answers 2

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Der Teufel steckt im Detail.

The German idiom is almost a literal translation of the English phrase.

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  • As you see, I'm looking for common German idioms not the literal translation of that.
    – user508
    Mar 14, 2012 at 13:48
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    @Gigili It is common
    – Em1
    Mar 14, 2012 at 13:50
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    @Gigili: It's not only common, it is the German idiom for this situation. Mar 14, 2012 at 14:00
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    BTW, there is a common extension "... und im Restalkohol!"
    – Landei
    Mar 14, 2012 at 16:11
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    Isn't the English phrase a literal translation of the German idiom? ;-)
    – harper
    Apr 3, 2012 at 3:43
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If you want a more regional translation: I heard some people from around Stuttgart say

"Der Teufel isch a Eichhörnle."

(The devil is a sqirrel).

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    Das gibt's auch auf Hochdeutsch: "Der Teufel ist ein Eichhörnchen".
    – elena
    Apr 2, 2012 at 14:37
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    But that's not the same meaning - "D'r Deifl isch a Eichhörnle" heißt dass Dinge schnell schiefgehen können, wenn man nicht gut/sorgfältig achtgibt.
    – Stephie
    May 9, 2015 at 19:35
  • @Stephie Das ist doch genau die Bedeutung. Wo soll der Unterschied sein?
    – Sentry
    Oct 30, 2019 at 16:01

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