I am having some difficulties translating the phrase: "to get wise to something" in German, where "to get wise to something" == "slowly figure out/not be fooled by somebody". For example, "He tricked me at first, but I got wise to his tricks/lies."

I see four possibilities in the dictionary: 1. Etwas auf die Spur kommen, 2. etwas auf die Schliche kommen, and 3. etwas spitzkriegen, and 4. hinter etwas kommen, and can't figure out the difference in the meaning in this context. Out of the four sentences:

  1. Ich bin seinen Tricks/Lügen auf die Spur gekommen.
  2. Ich bin seinen Tricks/Lügen auf die Schliche gekommen.
  3. Ich habe seine Tricks/Lügen spitzgekriegt.
  4. Ich bin hinter seine Tricks/Lügen gekommen.

Which one do you think best expresses "get wise to", and what are the differences?

  • It would be nice to know what kind of tricks we are talking about here.
    – akuzminykh
    Apr 2, 2021 at 2:53
  • By tricks, I mean lies, for example. I have edited the post. For example, the car salesman tried to trick me, but I got wise to his lies.
    – Mark
    Apr 2, 2021 at 2:54

1 Answer 1


I'm responding to the second revision and the comment:

By tricks, I mean lies, for example. I have edited the post. For example, the car salesman tried to trick me, but I got wise to his lies.

I think that none of the four options is optimal. The first two are more about disclosing a mystery, something that happens in the background. I've never heard the third option. The fourth one is the best in my opinion as it is the closest one to simply "figuring out something", "etwas heraußfinden". To see what's happening behind a wall – "hinter etwas" – you need to get behind it – "kommen".

A much better alternative would be in my opinion:

Ich habe seine Tricks/Lügen durchschaut.

I assume that it's the most common way of expressing what you want to express here. It means that the core of something or what is behind something becomes visible through the surface, similar to "seeing through lies", "Lügen durchschauen". It works equally well with "tricks".

  • "durschauen" is a good choice in my mind. The third option "spitzkriegen" has a very similar meaning like the first two. In my understanding, they all three are for situations, where the "mysterious issue" is not finished yet. But they describe the point in time, when one notice: there IS an "mysterious issue". So it would not fit to the salesman example, but more to an ongoing betrayal (e.g. in relationship), or even a planned surprise (e.g. birthday party). Apr 2, 2021 at 5:46
  • @Allerleirauh Thank you. So would you say that, "er ist dem Verrat auf die Spur gekommen", or "sie ist den Geburtstagspläne auf die Spur gekommen" more synonymous with "Wind davon bekommen"?
    – Mark
    Apr 2, 2021 at 16:54
  • Yes. The difference (for me) is, that "Wind davon bekommen" is more passive than your three examples. They implicy (for me) a more active participation of the person. But this is only my feeling about this :) Apr 3, 2021 at 6:05

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