Is there an idiomatic equivalent in German for “have other fish to fry”?

have other fish to fry: "To have more important things to do"

As an anecdote I want to mention that in the two romance languages I am familiar with, this idiom is related to cats:

In French: avoir d'autres chats à fouetter- to have other cats to whip
In Italian: avere altre gatte da pelare - to have other cats to skin

  • 4
    Schlichtweg: Ich habe wichtigere Dinge zu tun ;p
    – Em1
    Commented Apr 7, 2012 at 15:32
  • 1
    Actually, since the answers are a bit off-topic or doesn't say anything else than a literal translation for "to have more important things to do", I would say: No, there isn't an idiom!
    – Em1
    Commented Apr 7, 2012 at 21:09
  • @ Em1, you are right, a correct answer would be "no there isn't an idiom, some literal translation are such and such
    – iddober
    Commented Apr 8, 2012 at 10:54
  • 1
    Not strictly the same, but in nicht meine Baustelle the more important things are implied.
    – starblue
    Commented Apr 11, 2012 at 7:25

4 Answers 4


Actually there is an "animalistic" idom for "more important things"

If someone has no time for you and seems to have an important business, you can ask ironically:

Was hast du denn noch für Igel zu bürsten?

See e.g. http://echt-gothsch.de/pages/redensarten.php

  • I've also heard “ich habe noch andere Igel zu bürsten” – frequently, but afaicr only from members of one family, so that may not count for much. Commented Apr 9, 2012 at 18:55
  • What is the literal translation to English?
    – iddober
    Commented Apr 9, 2012 at 20:13
  • 3
    "I have to brush some other hedgehogs." Never heard that one, though.
    – Jules
    Commented Apr 10, 2012 at 9:34
  • 1
    I agree, the phrase isn't used very frequently. But it is funny and I'll try to employ it myself more often :-)
    – Landei
    Commented Apr 12, 2012 at 7:29

Ich habe Wichtigeres zu tun.


Ich habe besseres zu tun.

Ich habe wichtigeres vor.

(besseres and wichtigeres may have to be capitalized under Neue Deutsche Rechtschreibung. Fight the power!)

  • It strikes me as curious that there seems to be a gap here in German vis-à-vis other European languages. Perhaps "ich habe mit dir noch ein Hühnchen zu rupfen" (I've got a bone to pick with you) diverged from a now-forgotten ancestor that did serve such a purpose? Commented Apr 7, 2012 at 20:03

Nicht wirklich passend, aber angrenzend:

Ich habe noch ein heißes Eisen im Feuer.

Ein Eisen im Feuer zu haben wird aber benutzt um eine weitere Option, die man hat, zu beschreiben; nicht eine Pflicht, die man erledigen muss.

Es könnte also in manchen Fällen passen, aber nicht in allen.

  • "noch ein Eisen im Feuer" <> "ein heißes Eisen anfassen" Commented Apr 7, 2012 at 19:58
  • Mit kalter Fusion natürlich auch kalte Eisen im Feuer ... Commented Apr 7, 2012 at 20:45

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