I looked up "Das wäre ja gelacht" on DeepL which said it meant "that is laughable", which makes sense. But another source (a commenter on Duolingo) said it means "that will certainly succeed." I've tried looking it up on Google but could not find a definitive answer (not in English, anyway - the German ones I couldn't understand).

Can anyone give an example of the context in which this expression would be used?

  • 3
    Not a duplicate as the other question is in German.
    – Carsten S
    Commented Oct 10, 2020 at 9:01
  • 2
    I was told, per discussion here, that duplicate questions don't get closed if the previous question is answered in another language. The point is that if duplicate questions get closed even if they're in a different language, then translations should be available on request for existing answers.. Otherwise people can't get an answer in a language they understand.
    – RDBury
    Commented Oct 10, 2020 at 9:28
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    Anyway, per Redensarten Index, this is an idiom: "colloquial; Expression of fighting spirit / confidence; Something is so certain that the occurrence of the opposite would mean a contradiction to what can be expected, which would have a comical effect and would make you laugh."
    – RDBury
    Commented Oct 10, 2020 at 9:49

2 Answers 2


Normally, this phrase is used in a context like

Das wäre doch gelacht, wenn wir X nicht schaffen
(It would be laughable, if we were not to manage X)

The meaning is, that if you were to fail, it would be so ridiculous, that you couldn't help but laugh about it. In other words, you expect the task to be quite easy/doable.

You can only say the first part and leave the rest of the sentence implied

H: Um 12 Uhr kommt der LKW, vorher muss hier alles ausgeräumt sein.
P: Na, das wäre doch gelacht [, wenn wir das nicht rechtzeitig schaffen würden]!


One variant (a bit dated) of this phrase is:

Da lachen ja die Hühner.

It implies that chickens are one of the dumbest species, and when even they start laughing you did something very stupid - more stupid than what chickens would do.

The original meaning surely goes back to auslachen: not you will laugh, but others will laugh about you. The theoretical phrase Das wäre ein großes Gelächter might be more understandable syntactically and also make more sense when the Gelächter comes from your audience, not you.

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