In English one can "call somebody out for [or on]" something they shouldn't have done, that is, "publicly criticize or fault (someone)" (Merriam-Webster). Leo and Linguee only have translations and examples with other meanings.

Here are a few examples sampled from M-W and the first google result page:

  • Merriam-Webster: "The FDA will have to start forcing companies to be transparent and call them out on it when they're not."
  • Harvard Business Review: "You’ve Been Called Out for a Microaggression"
  • Buzzfeed: "Women Are Talking About The Things They Got Called Out For That Men Do All The Time"
  • Medium: "If your friend is called out for transphobia"

This usage may be more common in American English and, as the snippets suggest, seems to be connected to the recently heightened social sensitivities, one potential reason there has not been a great need for a translation; at least, I had trouble finding one. Sure, you can simply translate M-W's explanation and say öffentlich kritisieren. An den Pranger stellen seems too harsh and exists already in English.

So let me be the social avant-garde — down with the microaggressions! — and ask how you would translate it into German.

  • 1
    See call out in Wiktionary definition 4. There are possible translations already listed: zur Rede stellen & angehen.
    – RDBury
    Dec 13, 2021 at 4:05

3 Answers 3


Possible translations with slightly different gist, you named many of them yourself, and one might choose depending on context.

Jemanden zur Rede stellen für etwas (this can be private or public, demanding explanation for whatever deed or misbehaviour)

Jemanden anprangern wegen etwas (this is public shaming)

An jemanden appellieren etwas zu tun (ask sb to do sth )

Jemanden kritisieren (oder tadeln) für etwas (tadeln is the soft form of criticising)

See also https://m.dict.cc/deen/?s=Call+out+on+sb or

  • 1
    Zur Rede stellen is good! Probably Öffentlich ... Dec 13, 2021 at 0:15
  • 1
    @Peter-ReinstateMonica I have the impression that "zur Rede stellen" is a translation that fits rarely. It certainly does not fit for the examples given in the linked Buzzfeed article. But it also fits badly for the examples in the linked Harvard Business Review and Medium articles. Here a call out is more like an accusation plus a guilty verdict; it's typically not a request for an explanation or an invitation for a discussion.
    – Uwe
    Dec 13, 2021 at 9:19
  • I agree with Uwe's gut feeling. Those quoted cases feel more like if "anprangern" is more accurate (probably no intention for dialogue, just public accusation with no intention to listen to their side, but only intention of having the recipient giving in or change). Dec 13, 2021 at 9:27
  • @Uwe Not sure. Literally, calling somebody out simply means to make publicly known (like calling out a gauge reading, the non-metaphorical meaning). Whether the called-out will have a chance to reply or not is not said. Obviously, starting the process as a public discourse is done to pressure somebody more than to start a discreet conversation. But e.g. the FDA quote surely is an invitation to some reaction. Dec 13, 2021 at 12:19
  • zurechtweisen
  • maßregeln
  • rüffeln
  • tadeln
  • kritisieren
  • anprangern
  • anklagen
  • vorführen
  • herauspicken
  • zur Rechenschaft ziehen
  • bloßstellen
  • vorwerfen
  • Interesting suggestions! For me, at least a number of them correspond to variants in the meaning of call out, although I often would add an "öffentlich": maßregeln when really no dialog is intended, anprangern was one of the early suggestions (and is probably less harsh than an den Pranger stellen), and I really like zur Rechenschaft ziehen which has this hint of a public tribunal that calling somebody out can evolve into. Dec 16, 2021 at 21:52

What about the simple "rügen"?

  • Yes, that's an aspect of it, at least when you add an öffentlich. Perhaps that's why I'm not happy with most translations that come to mind: "Call out" contains this element of publicizing something. Dec 13, 2021 at 16:51

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