Quick question: I am looking for the best way to express "feed off of" in a figurative sense in German. Here are some examples:

  1. The soldiers feed off of the courage of the general.

  2. The band feeds off of the energy of the crowd.

Here is my attempt at a translation:

  1. Die Soldaten zehren von dem Mut des Generals.

  2. Die Band zehrt von der Energie des Publikums.

Does "zehren von" work here? Thanks!

  • 2
    As far as I know, to feed on/off sth. is used without of. And yes: in a figurative sense, the expression can be translated to von etw. zehren. Jul 28, 2019 at 14:23
  • Thank you for your reply. Sometimes native speakers make mistakes, although the "of" seemed very natural to me...but maybe my university English teacher would say it is incorrect? Good question.
    – Mark
    Jul 28, 2019 at 14:26

1 Answer 1


zehren is relatively old-fashioned and also implies a scarceness of supply. It does somewhat fit, though.

leben von is the expression to use and can also be used figuratively for non-animated subjects.

Das Wohnzimmer lebt von den üppigen Stuckverzierungen an der Zimmerdecke

Der Titel lebt vom starken Bass, der den Rythmus treibt (music)

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