Back in 2016 one of my German friends (who since then passed away) used to say an expression in German that seemed common in North Rhine-Westphalia (at least in that familiar circle they all knew it). Due to my lack in german skills, another friend translated back then to me

When a women who is sinking in the mud waves at you (as in asking for help), wave back and let her sink.

Every so often I try to remember it but it's nearly impossible. Also, it's not an option to ask the other person who translated.

What I can recall is that the expression rhymed and here's what I remember from it (which might not even be precise)

Wenn eine Frau im [something that sounded like "mur"] zuwinken, [something I can't recall] und lass sie sinken.

I tried different terms through Google Translate but nothing really sounded like what was told.

  • 3
    "mur" is most likely "Moor"
    – choXer
    Dec 19, 2020 at 12:58
  • "Wenn eine Frau, die im Schlamm versinkt, Ihnen zuwinkt (als würde sie um Hilfe bitten), winken Sie zurück und lassen Sie sie versinken." DeepL Dec 19, 2020 at 13:13
  • @help-info.de that's similar to the Google Translate one. It surely wasn't Schlamm, it had "zuwinken" (which rhymes with the final word) and there was no "zurück" involved (I'd have remembered it) Dec 19, 2020 at 13:19

1 Answer 1


Googling "im moor sinken winken Frau", I found

Siehst Du im Moor die Schwiegermutter winken, wink zurück und lass sie sinken.

"When you see your mother in law waving from a bog, wave back and let her sink."

with a couple of results. I personally haven't heard this phrase before, but it seems very natural for its kind. I guess that's what you will have heard -- Schwiegermutter means "mother in law", though, and makes much more sense in a mocking rhyme like this (Schwiegermütter being a common target of jokes, probably in other languages as well).

There are also variants with other people sinking, such as bosses, or

Siehst Du den Spieß im Moore winken, wink zurück und lass ihn sinken.

Spieß, usually something like "pointed stick" or "pike", here refers to a designated army "office" (not a rank, but I don't know a better term in English). In the Austrian army, the holders of this office are often Vizeleutnante, who are, in stereotypes, obese and lazy, and not necessarily popular among conscripts.

  • 4
    The official word for "Spieß" is "Kompaniefeldwebel", in Austria "Dienstführender Unteroffizier", in Switzerland "Hauptfeldweibel". In English it is "company sergeant major" or "first sergeant".
    – Paul Frost
    Dec 19, 2020 at 23:07

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