We were having a conversation in French after a concert, and I was wondering how I'd express the same idea in German. I would have said:

Ich habe die letzten Tage damit verbracht, eingepfercht in meinem Büro über modrigen, alten Dokumenten zu brüten. Es ist wirklich eine angenehme Abwechslung, ab und zu hinauszugehen und sich zu vergnügen. Dieser schönen Musik zuzuhören ... Ahhh, das bringt einen wieder auf andere Gedanken, was?

Here I was talking about how going to a concert on holiday makes for a nice diversion after spending an entire week cooped up in an office. Essentially, I wanted to express the idea of:

  • Listening to this beautiful music... Ahh, it really blows away the cobwebs!

The expression "blow away the cobwebs" comes in handy when you want to say:

  • Doing some light exercise or going for a little walk etc helps you feel physically more energetic as well as mentally more alert.

And this dual aspect -- that is, both physically and mentally refreshed -- doesn't exactly make it easy to translate it into other languages.

I was just chatting with one of my travelling companions, a German speaker, on this matter, and we were talking about how the expression "jdn. (wieder) auf andere Gedanken bringen" refers mainly to a mental aspect. If so, how can I compensate for the lack of a physical connotation?

How is this idea "blow away the cobwebs" commonly/idiomatically expressed in German?

  • 1
    Your companion is right, it's only about blowing away mental fatigue.
    – Janka
    Sep 1, 2019 at 18:05
  • @janka that is correct as far as the denotional semantics are concerned. You know that if you know the individual words. The usage is fitting anyhow, because Gedanke here may mean rather broadly mood. If physical fatigue subsumes mental fatigue, then mental vigour chiefly implies general vigour, alas in relative terms.
    – vectory
    Sep 1, 2019 at 21:10
  • You are trying to translate from one foreign Language to another foreign language. That is very prone to go wrong. I have no doubt that the saying is used as indicated, but your interpretation seems more basic, if not fundamental than the saying.
    – vectory
    Sep 1, 2019 at 21:16
  • As your conversation was in French, as you say, could you give a French example for the cobweb metaphora? It would hardly be exactly the same in French, would it? Sep 2, 2019 at 7:37
  • @ChristianGeiselmann Interestingly, a literally interpreted phrase seems to be commonly used in French, though I haven't been completely sure of it myself until today: french.stackexchange.com/questions/38316/… Sep 2, 2019 at 10:07

6 Answers 6


Ahhh, war das belebend!
(Ahhh, that was invigorating!)

beleben can be used both in a mental and a physical sense.

Kaffee und manche Drogen haben eine belebende Wirkung – aber auch ein Spaziergang oder der Stich einer Biene.
(Coffee and some drugs have an invigorating effect – but also a stroll or the sting of a bee.)

Beleidigungen beleben die Kommunikation.
(Insults will stimulate your communication!)


For your sample sentence "Listening to this beautiful music... Ahh, it really blows away the cobwebs!" and with respect to the context you provided including both mental and physical refreshment, you may say

Diese schöne Musik zu hören... ah, das tut gut!

Diese schöne Musik zu hören... ah, das bringt einen frischen Wind!

Diese schöne Musik zu hören... das bringt einen auf andere Gedanken.

Diese schöne Musik zu hören... da wird man doch gleich ein anderer Mensch.

These expressions are in an average register of speech, not slang or so. If you are looking for slang, perhaps this could be valid:

Diese coole Mucke jetzt... ah, das zischt!

(Imagine the sound of opening a bottle of beer, and the mental and physical refreshment people often associate with it.)

  • 1
    I like much "... da wird man doch gleich ein anderer Mensch." Sep 2, 2019 at 11:36
  • "Das bringt einen frischen Wind!" may well correspond to "second wind" in English. Sep 2, 2019 at 12:15
  • ... ah, das perlt ...
    – Olafant
    Sep 3, 2019 at 7:17

Additional to all the other good example, I want to name an old phrase:

Das erfrischt Körper und Geist.

(It refreshes body and soul.)

It suits to both areas, mentally and physically, but it sounds a little old fashioned, especially if you use it in a daily conversation with a friend.


Die Akkus/Batterien/Energie (wieder) aufladen to recharge the batteries

has the meaning and connotation that you are looking for.

For those unfamiliar with these idiom, check the following sites:








  • 1
    Did you make that up? It sounds as if you had made it up.
    – vectory
    Sep 1, 2019 at 21:53
  • 2
    No, why would I do that? I added some examples where it's been used. Sep 1, 2019 at 22:05
  • 2
    Despite you thinking it's "junk", does it make it any less valid? It obviously is part of the German language AND is well understandable i.e. the metaphor is quite clear. Sep 1, 2019 at 22:23
  • 1
    @vectory Colloquially Akku and Batterie are used interchangebly albeit technically incorrect. Could we keep this discussion on an objective level? I frankly don't care if you don't like the metaphor and are a language purist, but you must acknowledge the fact that it is a used metaphor. Language is in constant development. Sep 2, 2019 at 15:16
  • 1
    @infinitezero: Ja, und was hat das mit dem Wegblasen von Spinnweben zu tun? Nichts. Sep 3, 2019 at 0:09

For the physical aspect we have

sich die Füße vertreten

an die frische Luft gehen

etwas frische Luft schnappen

mal wieder ein bisschen Sonnenlicht tanken / abbekommen wollen.

The social aspect may be described as

(mal wieder) unter Menschen / unter Leute gehen

(mal wieder) vor die Tür gehen

aus der Versenkung auftauchen

wieder auf der Bildfläche erscheinen.

You have the mental aspect in

den Kopf (wieder) frei bekommen

(mal) auf andere Gedanken kommen


die Arbeit vergessen / nicht mehr an die Arbeit denken müssen

die Seele baumeln lassen (unfortunately rather hackneyed in the meantime)

The "cabin fever aspect" can be found in

mir fiel die Decke auf den Kopf

ich hielt das (mit dem einsamen Vor-mich-Hinarbeiten) einfach nicht mehr aus

ich musste (da) einfach mal raus.

I don't know if there is an idiom that conforms exactly to your wishes. One might combine some of the sentences above or find new metaphoric expressions like:

Ich musste mir jetzt einfach mal etwas Gutes tun, rausgehen, andere Gesichter sehen, mir den Gehirnskasten gründlich durchpusten lassen...


Nach all den Tagen in "klösterlicher Abgeschiedenheit" brauchte ich dringend einen Szenenwechsel und musste an die frische Luft und unter Leute und wollte mal für ein paar Stunden auf ein anderes Programm umsteigen...


Ich hatte genug einsam vor mich hingebrütet und bin losgezogen ein bisschen frische Luft und Sonne tanken... Und dann mit der wunderbaren Musik im Konzert mal richtig anders draufzukommen, das hatte mir echt gefehlt!

  • None of this work as a drop in replacement. What would be the resulting sentence?
    – vectory
    Sep 1, 2019 at 21:54
  • 2
    @vectory: I don't know what a 'drop in replacement' is. If you want a one English sentence - one German sentence solution for the OP's problem, I'm sorry to say that I don't have one. All I could do was naming German idioms or sentences that are approaching Con-gras-tue-les-chiens's idea. Sep 1, 2019 at 22:07

Your German friend is correct as far as the denotional semantics of andere Gedanken are concerned. You know that if you know the individual words. It fits anyhow. The saying is also used with sexual connotation, which surely includes physical activity. Gedanke-n in that sense rather means state of mind, mood than e.g. opinion.

The cobwebs not withstanding, the expressed sense is rather basic. Compare for example

in Schwung bringen

  • to set into motion

  • to repair

Das bringt einen wieder richtig in Schwung, wa?

cp. PIE *wenh1- "wish, desire, love", Wunsch, *swentos "vigour", gesund, En sound, *swen- "to sing", Schwan, Lat sonus "sound", \HweHntos "wind", Lat ventos, *sHwen- "sun", (viz *seHwol- with n/l alteration), Wohl, sweet, swet, swell;

Incidentally neuen Wind or neuen Schwung in die Bude bringen coexist.

Alternatively a mere das war aufregend does the job, unless you are asking whether your friend had a drag of a weak, too.

aufregen, aufregend

  • to excite

By the way, I find that cobwebs implies idleness and lazyness, which wasn't really the case for you. Rather compare to get the juices flowing -- die Säfte in Wallung bringen does sound very archaic though.

  • Jemanden in Schwung bringen sounds really good, the rest is not. Sep 1, 2019 at 22:14
  • @infinitezero I'm resting quite well, but collecting the comparanda was effort. What's the problem, do you know a proper etymology? Do yku not need one? Good for you.
    – vectory
    Sep 1, 2019 at 22:19
  • 1
    I think you should clean up this answer, focus on the main points and remove the other stuff (i.e. the rest). Otherwise I feel inclided to give this a -1. Aufregend does not cover the physical aspects, so in my opinion this is in the wrong place. Sep 1, 2019 at 22:21
  • "regen" literally means to move
    – vectory
    Sep 1, 2019 at 22:23
  • Yes ... literally. It is only used to mean exciting though. A 90min football game can have a lot of running but still be completely boring. You would never say it was aufregend. Sep 1, 2019 at 22:28

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.