Can someone please explain the meaning of the phrase:

Bieder war gestern.

It is used for example in this article. I am not sure I understand it and cannot find any explanation online.

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    Bieder is related to (derives from?) Biedermeier, a period in German history, which was characterized by political reaction. "The effect was for artists and society in general to concentrate on the domestic and (at least in public) the non-political. Writers, painters, and musicians began to stay in safer territory, and the emphasis on home life for the growing middle class meant a blossoming of furniture design and interior decorating." Jul 28, 2020 at 20:24
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    Yes, this reference to the Biedermeier culture(?) is the key to understanding the phrase. "bieder" is just the adjective meaning something conforming to the ideas of Biedermeier. Which is also why there's not a really good translation anywhere
    – Hobbamok
    Jul 29, 2020 at 12:34
  • Thank you to everyone who commented! You helped me a lot.
    – Sara
    Jul 29, 2020 at 21:16

2 Answers 2


It's not easy to translate "bieder" because its modern meaning derives from German (cultural) history and is also a bit context-dependent. Maybe "conventional" would be appropriate here. But "bieder" also means "narrow-minded", so there is definitely a negative connotation.

The phrase means something like "conventional is not in fashion anymore". I think the construction "... war gestern" was invented by the marketing industry.

However, I'm not a connoisseur of performance art and I might be misinterpreting the meaning intended by the artist. The full quote "Bieder war gestern – Recyceln ist in." is confusing to me. But that's often seen as desirable by artists since it provides opportunities for different interpretations and hidden meanings.

  • Thank you! That's very useful.
    – Sara
    Jul 28, 2020 at 12:23
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    I think "bieder" implies, in addition to all which was written here, something like "unsexy" and "uncool".
    – Nick
    Jul 28, 2020 at 14:51
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    I think "Bieder war gestern - Recyceln ist in" is supposed to mean that recycling is no longer bieder, but in / "hip".
    – kutschkem
    Jul 29, 2020 at 7:46
  • > that's often seen as desirable by artists - IMHO, the main reason is that you think longer about the text and thus about the product.
    – mic
    Jul 29, 2020 at 10:02

The meaning of bieder is around simple, oldfashioned, not open for change. For example someone who does things in old fashioned ways, and is unwilling to change. It’s a negative word if used for a person, and mostly negative for things as well, coming close to boring.
It can be used to describe people, things, and even whole interiors of appartements for example.

bieder war gestern

just means in that context those times are over now and to start fresh with new ideas, unconventional, freaky, really anything who cares.

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    Don't use code formatting for cites or emphasis please! There was a reason for my edits. Jul 28, 2020 at 12:27
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    @Sofia Editing is to be expected on SE; after all, the content is under a CC license. Of course, there are limits, but what is considered" good" editing is defined by the site and the community, not the poster. To quote the help site: "If you are not comfortable with the idea of your contributions being collaboratively edited by other trusted users, this may not be the site for you." Jul 28, 2020 at 13:35
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    @πάνταῥεῖ’s edits look completely valid to me. Using code formatting for anything other than code leads to several problems. Please do not do this. If you want to debate this, please take it to German Language Meta. Also, please do not engage in edit wars and stay nice. If you cannot find an agreement about edits, please raise a flag for moderator attention.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Jul 28, 2020 at 13:46
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    @Sofia: Please stop doing this. If you want to argue that using code formatting is a good thing, take it to German Language Meta. If you want a short answer from me: Monospace fonts are not good for reading and code blocks will never be line wrapped. Moreover, code formatting is a semantic marker, not just formatting. This makes a difference for screen readers, automatic text handling (e.g., searches), etc.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Jul 28, 2020 at 14:29

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