I was wondering if there is a culturally appropriate way to say "my bad" in German as in:

My bad! I should've ...

Google translates it as "meine schlechte", but I don't know how trustworthy that is.

  • 7
    @RHa I find "How about a dictionary?" a bit too passive-aggressive. Also, I don't think we should be referring people to dictionaries for idiomatic expressions such as this. The appropriate translation can vary a lot, depending on how literal you want to be.
    – David Vogt
    Oct 31, 2021 at 18:20
  • 1
    @David Vogt Well, I think I could have provided three dictionariy links all of which give a translation of "my bad" but I think that would have come across a bit snarky either.
    – RHa
    Oct 31, 2021 at 20:26
  • 1
    @RHa - One such link is Wiktionary which does provide the translation mein Fehler. I think the main problem is the expectation that slang, idioms, and other figures of speech can be directly translated from one language to another; that's rarely the case. I brought this up in my answer to a similar question a few days ago.
    – RDBury
    Oct 31, 2021 at 21:28
  • 3
    Not a German speaker but "My bad," is a tremendously American phrase. For example, it is not used by English people, so using it in Britain makes Americans stand out like sore thumbs. I expect that using it in Germany would have a similar effect. Language is culture and culture is language; literal translations rarely work as intended. Nov 1, 2021 at 10:01
  • 1
    @RHa You don't realise how damaging comments like this can be. For example, when I was first learning computer programming as a child, I asked a simple question on a forum and someone responded "Why don't you just learn Java?" I have not touched Java for years. Please think before you mount your keyboard warrior steed. Help kindly, or go away. Nov 1, 2021 at 10:09

2 Answers 2


The appropriate translation depends on the context. A literal translation would be:

Mein Fehler.
Meine Schuld.
Mea culpa.

If the phrase is used to acknowledge responsibility:

Das geht auf meine Kappe.

If the phrase is used as an apology:

Tut mir leid.

  • 1
    Das geht auf meine Kappe is colloquial and should not be used in a formal setting. Nov 6, 2021 at 11:51

Given the different kinds of sorry, I've learned "es tut mir leid" as a sympathetic sort of sorry to mean essentially "my condolences" or expressing genuine regret or sorrow - most direct translation I've heard that helped me understand this is "it does me pain / it does me sorrow", whereas a quick "entschuldigung" is warranted when trying to get someone's attention in a casual setting or what you say when you've accidentally bumped into someone.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.