According to PONS it means "to get one's knickers in a twist (get confused)". So for a sentence like "Ich kriege mein Leben nicht auf die Reihe", how would that translate? The translation given by PONS sounds odd because nobody in the USA says "knickers", so what would be a more natural sounding translation in American-English?

  • 1
    "auf die Reihe kriegen" ~~ "to get it straight" maybe?
    – Ingo
    Jan 3, 2014 at 15:05
  • 3
    I think that “to get one's knickers in a twist”, “to get confused”, and „nichts auf die Reihe bekommen“ have three very different meanings.
    – Carsten S
    Jan 3, 2014 at 15:22
  • And it seems to me that the knickers-in-a-twitch image is also used in America, albeit with different words. It seems that the most common version there is “to get one's panties in a bunch”. Also compare the text titled “Distracted”: And so now like, now it's so funny, like [...] a couple of them that, you know, they've got their little panties on a little too tight. They're like all in a twitch, um, because [...] they're like "Oh well, you know, now [...] you're just writin' about, like, love and shit, [...] What happened to your politics?[...]"
    – Carsten S
    Jan 3, 2014 at 15:43
  • Interestingly, I thought "panties in a bunch" was the translation, but PONS' translation (de.pons.eu/dict/search/results/…) is one I'd agree with. I like @Ingo's comment; it seems to fit.
    – riqitang
    Jan 3, 2014 at 16:02

4 Answers 4


This isn't a translation service, and the adequate translation of colloquial expressions isn't always easy or even possible. But I think I can help you understand the term.

"Etwas auf die Reihe kriegen" is a colloquial way of saying "to succeed at something".

"Brauchst Du Hilfe bei den Hausaufgaben, oder kriegst Du's alleine auf die Reihe?"

"Do you need help with your homework, or can you do it alone?"


"Ich kriege mein Leben nicht auf die Reihe"

"I can't get my act together." / "I suck at life."


"Kriegst Du das Passwort für den Server noch auf die Reihe?"

"Can you remember the password for the server?"


I think the most straight forward translation would be

Can't get my life together.

(see here for example: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20130614001705AAqTfUJ)

Other possibilities would be:

Can't get my life in order

or less precise

Can't get my act together


„Nichts auf die Reihe kriegen“ means something like not being able to get anything done, not being able to achieve anything. To me it seems to indicate that this is more the person's fault than because of the task at hand.

  • +1 Definitiv, es liegt an dem, der nichts auf die Reihe kriegt. Wenn jemand aufgrund von unglücklichen Zufällen sein Ziel nicht erreicht hat, verwendet man "nichts auf die Reihe kriegen" nicht.
    – Ingo
    Jan 3, 2014 at 16:44

If you talk about somebody for example: Der kriegt auch nichts auf die Reihe, it pretty much means: He is a looser.

  • nutzloser Beitrag,ehrlich
    – vectory
    Jul 7, 2021 at 19:36

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