Questions tagged [idiom]

Redewendungen – Questions on idioms, i.e., groups of words that have a meaning not deducible from the individual words

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4 votes
5 answers
9k views

Was bedeutet „sich zu schaffen machen“?

In Lew Tolstois Anna Karenina heißt es: … der Tatar, der die Gläser wieder gefüllt hatte und sich um die beiden gerade dann zu schaffen machte, wenn seine Anwesenheit nicht mehr erwünscht war … ...
6 votes
5 answers
5k views

Is there equivalent for "I am starving to death" in German?

For the English sentence "I am starving to death", in the meaning of "I am very hungry", (rather than of a real pathological condition), is there an equivalent in German (using the ...
9 votes
4 answers
2k views

Odd use(s) of "bauen"

I recently came across a use of "bauen" with "Unfall", which seems odd to me. (For full the context it was "Du bist rausgefallen, nachdem du einen Unfall gebaut hast.") ...
5 votes
2 answers
2k views

Concerning the word, "schwarzbraun;" Does this term, when applied to a person, literally mean "blackbrown", or connote "brunette"?

[1] Concerning the word, "schwarzbraun;" Does this term, when applied to a person, literally mean "black brown", or connote "brunette"? [2] Does schwarzbraun suggest a ...
6 votes
4 answers
8k views

"Am Boden" or "auf dem Boden"?

I read somewhere that am Boden was the older version of "on the floor". When did it change? Die Toten Hosen have a song that goes: Steh auf, wenn du am Boden bist. So I wonder if this ...
4 votes
3 answers
1k views

Does "paar" still mean "two items"? Words that have lost their original meaning

–Ich hätte gerne ein Paar Brötchen –Wie viele? That was (modulo trivialities) a conversation that surprised me. Of course –assuming the grammatical correctness of the sentences–, the baker doesn't ...
14 votes
2 answers
3k views

What's a short rhyme meaning, e.g. for Christmas, I only want an empty box?

My Grandma, born in 1883 to German immigrants in New York would use the odd German phrase in daily life here in the States. Each year her answer to "What would you like for Christmas?" was ...
5 votes
3 answers
2k views

"Leider, leider, sogt Beschneider"

I walked past a chess game in Munich, where someone had just played a very bad move. An old gentleman exclaimed: Leider, leider, sogt Beschneider. It's probable that I misheard a bit. I suppose ...
1 vote
2 answers
183 views

How to understand "Der Angst den Schrecken nehmen"?

The structure "etwas (dativ) den Schrecken nehmen" means "make something less terrifying", but I fail to understand why there are two dativ objects: etwas, den Schrecken, and ...
3 votes
2 answers
508 views

What is the origin and meaning of the expression "Da wird der Hund in der Pfanne verrückt"?

I heard this expression several times at work and wonder what it exactly means and where it originates from. I moved to the south of Germany close to Stuttgart.
2 votes
3 answers
779 views

What is the force of gesehen haben muss : You [one has] gotta see, You ought to have seen, or you must already have seen?

A click-bait ad on my newsfeed is captioned, Die 27 peinlichsten Fotos, die man gesehen haben muss. What, exactly, does this sentence mean, in English? Is it equivalent to, "The 27 most ...
2 votes
1 answer
131 views

What is the use of "dran" in the followng sentence. It seems superfluous to me

A feed on LinkedIn reads, Ich bin ein bisschen spät dran zum Welttag der Suizidprävention aber bei der Wichtigkeit dieses Themas ... The emboldening is mine. What is the grammar and meaning of dran ...
13 votes
10 answers
8k views

What is the German idiom or expression for when someone is being hypocritical against their own teachings?

In the USA we have a few common idioms for indicating to someone they are being hypocritical, with the sub-context being that they are contradicting their own teachings or personal code for living. ...
13 votes
5 answers
948 views

Expression for someone with very broad and detailed knowledge

Are there any well-known German expressions for someone who is very board and detailed in knowledge? for example: He is a human database
5 votes
3 answers
5k views

'Blau machen' and other phrases for absenteeism

I was watching a video about various idioms that have 'machen' in them. This included the sentence 'Er macht blau', which would formally translate into English as something like 'To be absent from ...
0 votes
4 answers
134 views

How to say "a man needs..." referring to what people in general need?

In my current translation project I have a line as follows: Sorry, sirrah, but a man needs something to buy food with. This is said by a beggar and thief who is apologizing for robbing the hero, ...
2 votes
2 answers
115 views

How can I say "lying in a heap" in German?

In my current translation project I have the phrase "there appears to be something lying in a heap," referring to a rope ladder which is sitting on the ground at a certain point in an ...
0 votes
1 answer
73 views

How can I say "I'll show you [adjective]" in German?

In English there is an idiom "I'll show you X," for example: A: I think you're crazy. B: Crazy? I'll show you crazy! By this B means that he will give a demonstration of how crazy he is, ...
2 votes
2 answers
229 views

How do I translate "take them down with me" into German?

In English there is an expression: to "take someone down with you." For example if a gangster is fleeing from the police and is expecting a shootout, he might say, I'm taking two of them ...
3 votes
2 answers
182 views

How can I translate the English phrase "you need all the X you can get" into German

In English, there is a common expression: to "need all the [noun] you can get," which implies that someone is in a bad situation. For example: But I lost another $10,000, and now the bank ...
6 votes
4 answers
2k views

What is "to put things into public storage'' in German?

John is moving out of his apartment and he doesn't want to drag around all this stuff while looking for a house to settle into. He goes to a public storage and rents a unit to put his stuff in. What's ...
8 votes
2 answers
3k views

How to say "my bad"

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 ...
0 votes
2 answers
111 views

Bedeutung von "den letzten Nerv zu durchschneiden"

In the following paragraph that talks about secular-Jewish movements: "Und nun heute? Heute, nachdem nun zwei Generationen sich einander gegenüber: die eine, das unbegriffene Judentum ererbt, ...
16 votes
3 answers
3k views

What's the origin of “Löcher in den Bauch fragen”?

I know that “Löcher in den Bauch fragen” means “to ask too many questions”, but I really can’t imagine the origin. Maybe because too many questions are annoying like a hole in the belly?
1 vote
2 answers
259 views

"As if!" in German

An English informal idiom "As if." means "I very much doubt it." For example, "You know how lottery winners always say it won't change their lives? Yeah, as if!" Is there ...
2 votes
1 answer
253 views

Can "to make someone crazy" be translated as "jemanden in (zum?) Wahnsinn bringen"

I was wondering if one can say "jemanden zum Wahnsinn bringen" for "to make someone crazy"? One can say Dieser Satz bringt mich durcheinander. which means "This sentence confuses me." and ...
-5 votes
3 answers
246 views

Streusel-Schnecke oder Schneck? [closed]

Backt mich auf bitte, eine Streuselschnecke hat ja keine Schneckenform. Ähnliche Snacks, die eine derartige Form doch aufweisen, möchten wohl augenfällige Wortspiele sein. Was war zuerst, die Schnecke ...
2 votes
3 answers
1k views

What is a German word to describe German's ability to have a word for anything?

German is often described as "having a word for everything" since it's agglutinative and express complex ideas or things with a single compound word like 'Schadenfreude', 'Kummerspeck', '...
2 votes
1 answer
1k views

Herkunft "Holland in Not"

"Holland (sei) in Not" sagt man, wenn guter Rat teuer ist und ein Unglück geschehen. Zur Herkunft dieses Sprichwortes vermag ich aber nichts besseres zu finden als einige Webseiten (hier, ...
2 votes
2 answers
189 views

Half a donkey intuition? What does that mean?

In Michael Ende's novel The Neverending Story, the character Yikka, a talking mule, keeps saying that her intuition comes from being "half an ass (donkey)." "When one is only half an ...
2 votes
1 answer
136 views

Was bedeutet "nicht so krass der Fall"?

Ich habe diesen Satz getroffen: In München ist es nicht so krass der Fall wie in Stuttgart. Wenn ich richtig bin, das kann wie "In Munich ist not the case as in Stuttgart" übersetzt. Aber ...
0 votes
2 answers
112 views

What is einer doing here?

Attempting to translate: Look at the size of them, will you? I said: Schau sich doch ihre Größe an, ja! My German friends corrected me with: Schau sich doch einer ihre Größe an, ja! What "...
4 votes
1 answer
224 views

Etwas leinwand finden

Was heißt das? Das finde ich leinwand. Beispiele: Das finde ich leinwand. Das heißt für mich, dass er nicht nur für sein kleines Ego lebt. Andy Warhol - Superstar! Joseph Beuys - kein Einwand! Doch ...
1 vote
3 answers
161 views

„im Beibemerk“ statt „nebenbei bemerkt“

I came across „im Beibemerk“ used as „nebenbei bemerkt“ today. Could not find it in any dictionary. How common is it? Example: Es regnet heute. Im Beibemerk ist es dieses Jahr so trocken wie noch nie ...
4 votes
4 answers
313 views

How to translate the idiom - "at the bottom of the food chain" into german :)

How to translate the idiom - "at the bottom of the food chain" into german :)
11 votes
3 answers
2k views

Hat die Verwendung des bestimmten Artikels in "die Ukraine" eine politische Konnotation?

Auf Englisch gibt es bei der Wahl zwischen "Ukraine" und "the Ukraine" politische Konnotationen. Zum Beispiel, siehe dieses Artikel auf the conversation (auf Englisch). Auf ...
1 vote
2 answers
218 views

"auf die Nerven gehen" vs. "an den Nerven zerren" vs. "an die Nerven gehen"

According to Duden here jemandem auf die Nerven gehen/fallen (umgangssprachlich: jemandem äußerst lästig werden) and here: der Lärm zerrt an meinen Nerven (ist eine große Belastung für meine Nerven)...
13 votes
2 answers
6k views

Was bedeutet „auf Draht sein“?

Was meint man mit „auf Draht“ (lit. “on the wire”)? Or what is the English equivalent?
23 votes
10 answers
7k views

Is there a German equivalent for "self defeating"?

How would you express "self defeating" in German? Specifically, to express that someone is taking a perspective or actions that are actually leading him or her away from their goal instead of ...
2 votes
1 answer
158 views

What does Narr or Affe have to do with fressen?

Could someone please explain to me the rationale behind this idiom: einen Narren or Affen an jdm/etw gefressen haben
10 votes
8 answers
4k views

Is there a German colloquialism to define a person working mainly with papers and documents?

Example of professions defined by this word might be lawyers, notaries, accountants, bureaucrats, and similar. The word I'm looking for might have a playful or even slightly derogatory connotation.
1 vote
1 answer
456 views

Old idiom "Weiter machen, weiter machen, nimmer schlacken."

I heard the phrase (idiom?) Weiter machen, weiter machen, nimmer schlacken. Did I mis-hear it? Or is it possibly an idiom for "keep going, keep going, don't delay"? Actually, my old dictionary's ...
7 votes
4 answers
10k views

Woher kommt die Redewendung „mit dem linken Bein aufstehen“?

Ich steige immer mit dem linken Bein aus dem Bett. Die Bedeutung ist hier, dass ich eine schlechte Laune habe, wenn ich aufstehe; aber meine Frage ist, warum mit dem linken Bein, warum nicht mit dem ...
4 votes
3 answers
246 views

"Well, if it isnt ..." in German

I just ran across Sieh an, wenn das kein(e) (jemand/etwas) ist. I interpret this in English as "Well, if it isn't (someone/something)." In English this is an expression of mild or feigned ...
-1 votes
1 answer
398 views

What Swiss idioms are there that Germans wouldn't know of?

Germans have alot of strange (and un-humorous) sayings that almost every German has heard before, but no one else outside of Germany. For example, "(K)Einen Elefanten aus einer Mücke machen" ...
7 votes
1 answer
278 views

German idioms like "Draining the swamp"

Are there any (incriminating) idioms in German similar to "Draining the swamp", which is American for "weed out all the bad guys"? Besides similar phrases, is this idiom itself ...
7 votes
3 answers
4k views

Wie kam es zu der Wendung "jemand hängen lassen"?

Eine sehr gebräuchliche Redewendung ist "jemand hängen lassen" (to let someone down) Unser Lieferant hat uns wieder einmal hängen lassen. Woher kommt dieser Ausdruck?
6 votes
3 answers
16k views

Was bedeutet "Ein Satz mit X, das war wohl nix"?

Ich habe eine E-Mail bekommen, in der ein deutscher Freund von mir folgenden Satz geschrieben hat: Bei uns gibt es einen Spruch: »Nenne mir einen Satz mit X: Das war wohl nix.« Da ich diesen ...
2 votes
1 answer
183 views

„Zum einen“ ohne „zum anderen“

Betrachten wir folgende Beispiele: „Dieser Aufsatz will zum einen in die Zubereitung von Suppen einführen, konzentriert sich aber zwangsläufig vor dem Hintergrund der Fülle der Materialien auf die ...
9 votes
1 answer
3k views

Is there a German equivalent to the saying "to be in love with the sound of one's own voice"?

I'm in a meeting where somebody is talking too much and was wondering how can I talk about this guy with my colleagues afterwards. Does German have a way of saying "he's really in love with the ...

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