I was comparing the company I work for with another one nearby. My coworker dismissed my comparison with "Ja, die sind aber eine ganz andere Hausnummer".

I reckon it signifies difference, but that is where my understanding ends. What would he try to convey?

If the comparison facts are of significance, both companies are roughly of the same size, field and turnaround. The other company is much older (about 80 years compared to my company's 30) and is more oriented towards high volume manufacturing whereas we do mostly services and tailored manufacturing. The Hausnummer phrase came as a response to me saying the other company having Betriebsrat - we don't have one.

  • 1
    This post is related, but no duplicate (since it is German)
    – Arsak
    Commented Dec 12, 2018 at 17:28
  • @RudyVelthuis So by preserving the sense of far-away position on the series on integers, it is in fact rather literal - much more so than just a generic "differs greatly". Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 7:12
  • @Kilian: Er... what? I can't find my comment anymore. I think I commented here, something about "different order of magnitude". Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 8:07

3 Answers 3


There is not much more to be said than the phrase indeed is intended to mean they are substantially different. I believe (but don’t have sources) that it comes from the typical numbering of houses in German (or most European) streets: if the numbers are close by (e.g. 12 and 14) so are the houses but if the numbers are substantially different then you probably can’t see one house from the other (e.g. 12 and 194). This physical distance is likely supposed to emphasise a logical distance in the comparison.

  • I take your icon as a proof of validity! :-)
    – Pavel
    Commented Dec 12, 2018 at 18:59
  • 2
    Number 12 and 14 may be even the same house (in the sense of building).
    – Eller
    Commented Dec 12, 2018 at 20:31
  • 3
    Vielleicht noch sinnvoll darauf hinzuweisen, dass, obwohl der Unterschied von 12 zu 194 so groß ist wie der von 194 zu 12, der Terminus (soweit mir geläufig) nur für Vergleiche zum Größeren hin verwendet wird. Commented Dec 12, 2018 at 23:44
  • @userunknown Ich würde das nicht ausschließen. Allerdings wird der Vergleich zum Größeren deutlich überwiegen.
    – Jan
    Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 4:30

First said: I don't think Hausnummer refers to a real Hausnummer as found at houses. As said in this thread and this link Hausnummer also refers to

  • Schuhgröße
  • hohe Hausnummer = hohes Würfelergebnis
  • höhere Hausnummer = höherer Rang

So when you see "Hausnummer" as some kind of measurement or size, Das ist eine ganze andere Hausnummer becomes something like

This is much bigger/more important/total different (than us).

as said in the other given answers.

Synomns for this expression are

(eine) andere Größenordnung, (eine) andere Hausnummer, (eine) andere Kragenweite, (eine) andere Liga, (eine) andere Preisklasse, (ein) anderes Kaliber

Last but not least: There is another expression using the word Hausnummer.

Nenn mir mal eine (ungefähre) Hausnummer

Used when asking someone to guess a size/price/time it takes him/her to do something. This also refers to some kind of measurement.

  • 6
    To give English speakers a better idea, the usage of "Hausnummer" in this phrase is comparable to a phrase like "ballpark figure". If something is "eine ganz andere Hausnummer" than something else, the two are in completely different ballparks, so to speak, and comparing them probably won't yield useful results. Commented Dec 12, 2018 at 20:11

It means a lot more difficult/important.

Dieses Spiel haben wir gewonnen, aber nächste Woche geht's gegen die Bayern, das ist eine ganz andere Hausnummer.

  • Shouldn't we add a note on the other very popular use of "Hausnummer" in contemporary German, namely "Ich sag mal eine Hausnummer" meaning actually: "Let me give a rough estimate"? Which uses Hausnummer in quite a different way. Commented Dec 12, 2018 at 22:26
  • 5
    But the question was about eine ganz andere Hausnummer.
    – Janka
    Commented Dec 12, 2018 at 23:19
  • 1
    @Christian: not really a different meaning. That also asks for an estimate, for an order of magnitude, just like "ganz andere Hausnummer" is "different order of magnitude". "Hausnummer" simply means "number". Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 8:17
  • @Janka Yes, the meaning is different. I simply thought that it could be interesting additional information: a second popular phrase using the word Hausnummer, but using it in a metaphorical way, too. That's the common ground here: metaphorical use of Hausnummer. Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 10:04

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.