I know the meanings separately but when used for the abstract word Kritik, I am not understanding it.

Kritik austeilen

austeilen is sharing.
Does this mean sharing our critic opinions?

Kritik einstecken

einstecken is to put up something.
Does this mean criticizing someone face to face?

Kritik üben an

üben an= exercise on.
Does this mean someone with the habit of always criticizing others?

  • 2
    I know the meanings separately Well, this is not how language, esp. expressions work in most languages..
    – TaW
    Nov 4, 2021 at 16:33
  • What @TaW said is absolutely correct. You never translate words. You always translate meanings. If a text is a delicious dish, the individual words are just the ingredients. But to create the flavor, they have to mix together, and that's what happens with the meanings of words. When you combine some of them, they merge together and create a new meaning that did not exist before. The number of possible meanings of texts is infinite, but the number of meanings of words is limited. You could not express all the meanings if the meanings of texts were limited by the meanings of their words. Nov 5, 2021 at 8:33

2 Answers 2


The verb »austeilen« does not mean sharing. It means to hand out.

Der Lehrer teilt die Bücher aus.
correct: The teacher hands out the books.
wrong: The teacher shares the books.

»Kritik austeilen« means to criticize someone.

Die Kritik, die Laura gestern an Walter ausgeteilt hat, war ziemlich heftig.
The criticism Laura dished out to Walter yesterday was pretty severe.

»Kritik einstecken« means to receive criticism.

Das Orchester musste nach dem verpatzten Auftritt gestern Abend eine Menge Kritik einstecken.
The orchestra had to take a lot of criticism after the botched performance last night.

You can use the verb einstecken in a similar meaning also for receiving a punch:

Der Boxer musste mehrere harte Schläge einstecken bevor er seinen Gegner besiegen konnte.
The boxer had to take several hard punches before he could defeat his opponent.

»Kritik üben« means to criticize someone.

Dr. Schneider übt zwar oft Kritik an ihren Studenten, aber dabei ist sie immer gerecht.
While Dr. Schneider often criticizes her students, she is always fair in doing so.

  • 8
    I think the analogy to boxing is very explicit for both "austeilen" and "einstecken". "Kritik austeilen" and "Kritik einstecken" both suggest that "Kritik" is similar to punches, as you can also say "Schläge austeilen". There's also a saying "Wer austeilt, muss auch einstecken können", meaning if you criticize others, you must also accept criticism from others.
    – Sentry
    Nov 4, 2021 at 9:54
  • @Sentry: Nur dass die Analogie im Boxen gerade nicht stimmt: Wer nicht austeilt muss einstecken können während der, der gut austeilen kann, oft nicht viel einstecken muss. Nov 5, 2021 at 1:34
  • @userunknown Nicht ganz. Das spricht gilt nicht für Boxen, aber für Kritik. Meine Aussage war aber auch, dass sowohl austeilen als auch einstecken eine direkte Analogie zwischen Boxen und Kritik üben ist
    – Sentry
    Nov 5, 2021 at 14:16
  • 1
    @Sentry: Ja, dem kann man zustimmen und das tut man anonym mit Upvotes. :) Nov 5, 2021 at 15:47

In the first two idiomatic phrases criticism is seen as an attack, and both austeilen and einstecken are taken from the context of physical violence:

Schläge austeilen "to deliver blows" (literally, "to distribute blows")
Schläge einstecken "to receive blows" (literally, "to pocket blows")

In Kritik üben an, üben has the meaning of "to bestow sth. on sb." or "to mete sth. out to sb.". This is a common, albeit elevated meaning of üben. In this meaning, üben is commonly used in conjunction with certain abstract terms such as Barmherzigkeit "mercy", Gerechtigkeit "justice", Gnade "grace", Toleranz, "tolerance", Diskretion "discretion", and so on.

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