Please suggest a German translation for the English saying, "while the fit is upon us." Example:

The tone of the words seemed to mean, "Let us do this painful thing while the fit is upon us."

  • 5
    What flavor of English is this expression? I'm from the US and don't recognize it. (I also watch my fair share of UK and Australian TV.) Anyway, I gather "the fit is on one" means one has a strong urge or desire to do something unusual or out of character, is this correct?
    – RDBury
    Sep 3 at 4:10
  • The meaning of the this saying is more, "while we are irrationally, irresponsibly and uncontrollably so inclined."
    – user44591
    Sep 3 at 9:55
  • 1
    Could you explain what the saying means? Finding this out is not within the scope of German SE, and the example does not help.
    – RHa
    Sep 4 at 13:58

In the medical sense, a fit is ein Anfall:

epileptic fit - epileptischer Anfall

This is mere madness.
And thus a while the fit will work on him.
Anon, as patient as the female dove
When that her golden couplets are disclosed,
His silence will sit drooping.
(Shakespeare: Hamlet)

I haven't heard "while the fit is upon us". What I know is "...in a fit of..." in a more figurative sense of "Anfall". Linguee translates this with Anfall or Anwandlung.

I gave away a lot of money in a fit of generosity.
(Ich habe {aus einer Anwandlung}/{in einem Anfall} von Großzügigkeit sehr viel Geld verschenkt.)

Google also finds:

"I'm not sure about whether I shall go. I am the most incurably lazy devil that ever stood in shoe leather — that is, when the fit is on me, for I can be spry enough at times."
(A Study in Scarlet - Arthur Conan Doyle)

So I guess that a more figurative "Anfall" is what is also meant in "while the fit is upon us".

I would translate it as something like:

solange wir diesen Schub/Anfall haben
solange wir gerade Laune haben
wo wir gerade schon mittendrin sind

(These are all colloquial because I understand that "the fit is upon us" also is.)

  • 1
    Yes, this is the way I tried to translate it. But 2 native German speakers told me that my translation made no sense in German, because Anfall did not have a figurative meaning in German, which is required to catch the English meaning. But they also could not suggest a better German translation.
    – user44591
    Sep 3 at 9:58
  • I see. Well it seems to be an unusual use of "fit" in English, so I would expect it to sound unusual in German. Maybe someone has a better idea. Maybe you could describe some more what fit they are referring to in your citation? Was it mentioned earlier how they are already in a fit? If someone says "while the fit is upon us" that should refer to something that has already happened and has established how they are in a fit, right? For example they have already solved some other problems the whole day, so they're "in a fit" to solve more, or something like that.
    – HalvarF
    Sep 3 at 12:59
  • OK. Well, this is a sentence from a story which I translated that is about someone being very anxious transacting business in a bank. If this helps, earlier in the story: Wenn ich in eine Bank gehe, werde ich ängstlich. Die Angestellten machen mir Angst; die Kassen machen mir ängstlich; der Anblick des Geldes macht mir ängstlich; alles macht mir ängstlich. The fit being referred to is the context for actions taken in haste, without thinking, out of anxiety.
    – user44591
    Sep 3 at 16:21
  • 1
    I just read it, and I have to say I don't really see what exactly he means by "Let's do this painful thing while the fit is on us" in this context. I would probably use something like "Lassen Sie uns diese grausame Sache einfach hinter uns bringen." but I'm not really sure if I'm missing half of it.
    – HalvarF
    Sep 3 at 17:04
  • 3
    @user44591: The phrase seems unusual to me too, but I gather from the examples I've found with NGrams that it was (or is) a well understood idiom at some time and/or place. Well understood or not, idioms very often don't have corresponding phrases in other languages, and its rare for a word for word translation to make sense. Sometimes you have to settle for an approximate meaning and hope that context will supply what's missing. I'm thinking Während wir den Drang verspüren is a possibility, but perhaps no option will work in every situation.
    – RDBury
    Sep 3 at 19:49

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