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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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 ...
Arunabh Bhattacharya's user avatar
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.") ...
RDBury's user avatar
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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 ...
CHARLES SHARP's user avatar
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 ...
motomuso's user avatar
  • 141
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 ...
JoyfulPanda's user avatar
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 ...
Ben Weaver's user avatar
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 ...
Ben Weaver's user avatar
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, ...
odduse_of_language's user avatar
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 ...
odduse_of_language's user avatar
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, ...
odduse_of_language's user avatar
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 ...
odduse_of_language's user avatar
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 ...
odduse_of_language's user avatar
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.
and-bri's user avatar
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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, ...
daniel's user avatar
  • 100
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 ...
John Brown's user avatar
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', '...
Ryan Howe's user avatar
  • 123
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, ...
planetmaker's user avatar
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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 ...
Morgan's user avatar
  • 21
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 ...
AlexanderE's user avatar
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 "...
user44591's user avatar
  • 4,480
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 ...
xamf's user avatar
  • 13
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 ...
Paul's user avatar
  • 241
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 :)
Hara Gopal's user avatar
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)...
KeN SmilePachI's user avatar
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 ...
gerrit's user avatar
  • 1,048
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
user44591's user avatar
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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.
mrzool's user avatar
  • 203
-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 ...
vectory's user avatar
  • 2,184
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 ...
RDBury's user avatar
  • 11.5k
-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" ...
user610620's user avatar
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 ...
user610620's user avatar
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 ...
user avatar
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 ...
Henry Firth's user avatar
  • 1,429
9 votes
4 answers
2k views

How to translate this English idiom into German: "to have something in the palm of your hand"

How do you translate 'to have something in the palm of your hand' into German as an idiom? The English would mean to be in control of something. I was told 'in seiner Handfläche haben' is too literal, ...
Aleks's user avatar
  • 91
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 ...
Maths fan123's user avatar
12 votes
3 answers
4k views

How to say "get the joke" in German

I'm a beginner in German and I'm trying to speak German at my friends and such in order to help my learning journey. I was wondering how does one say "get the joke", as in "finally, you ...
Maths fan123's user avatar
6 votes
2 answers
316 views

What does "Was erlauben Sie sich?" mean?

I heard the question Was erlauben Sie sich? in a German film three times in two minutes. I don't think the literal meaning was intended: "What do you allow yourself?" Is this an expression?...
محمد الرويحي's user avatar
-1 votes
1 answer
147 views

How to translate "the fit upon us"? [closed]

Please suggest a German translation for the English saying, "while the fit is upon us." Example: The tone of the words seemed to mean, "Let us do this painful thing while the fit is ...
user44591's user avatar
  • 4,480
0 votes
3 answers
141 views

Übersetzung eines russischen Idioms, Wortlaut “Du bist ja eine Schatulle mit doppeltem Boden!”

Ist es fürs deutsche Ohr verständlich, wenn man sagt "Du bist ja eine Schatulle mit doppeltem Boden!" und dabei meint, dass jemand komplexer ist, als zunächst vermutet? Es geht um die ...
Photon's user avatar
  • 464
4 votes
2 answers
88 views

Ordnung + bringen

Is there any difference between: Bring Ordnung in dein Leben! and: Bring dein Leben in Ordnung! Or between: Die Polizei versuchte Ordnung in die Reihen der Demonstranten zu bringen. and: Die ...
KeN SmilePachI's user avatar
3 votes
2 answers
132 views

Übersetzung eines russischen Idioms, Wortlaut "Wo kam er auf meinen Kopf her?"

Ich tu mich schwer eine gute Übersetzung für ein Idiom zu finden. Im Wortlaut heißt es: Woher kam er auf meinen Kopf? Der Sinn dahinter ist in etwa "Wo kam er bloß her, jetzt muss ich mich mit ...
Photon's user avatar
  • 464
2 votes
3 answers
3k views

Ist "Guten Hunger!" ausschließlich positiv gemeint?

Als ich heute auswärts ein fertig zubereitetes Essen zum Mitnehmen kaufte, war ich etwas überrascht, dass mir der Verkäufer einen "Guten Hunger!" wünschte. Nach kurzer Recherche wurde mir ...
O. R. Mapper's user avatar
  • 8,697
8 votes
3 answers
949 views

Please explain the origin of "mitgehen lassen"

I recently came across (paraphrasing) Das habe ich aus dem Hinterzimmer des Ladens mitgehen lassen. Apparently mitgehen lassen is an idiomatic and euphemistic way of saying "to pilfer". I'm ...
RDBury's user avatar
  • 11.5k
0 votes
1 answer
175 views

What would be a good translation/equivalent saying for "Something came up"?

I had an appointment, and the other party never showed up. I wanted to send a polite text to say something like, "I assume something came up. Let me know when you have time to talk later." ...
Megan Holloran's user avatar
0 votes
2 answers
168 views

Übersetzung für "Someone great once said: ..."

Ist "Wie einer der Großen sagte: ..." oder "Wie jemand von denen Großen sagte: ..." eine gute Übersetzung für "Someone great once said: ...", einen einleitenden Satz, ...
Photon's user avatar
  • 464
0 votes
2 answers
121 views

wählen gehen, but it is with sein [duplicate]

I came across the following sentence: 87 Prozent der unter 25-Jährigen waren nicht wählen - ein historischer Negativrekord. What does waren nicht wählen mean? Does wählen sein exist as a phrasal ...
ViktorM's user avatar
  • 658
1 vote
1 answer
158 views

Why "es" with "ranken" when referring to stories and legends?

I found the following sentences in the DWDS usage database: Es rankt sich ja eine alte Legende um diese Gegend. (Fünf Freunde 2, 2013) Es ranken sich allerhand Geschichten um ihn. ("Doctor Who&...
RDBury's user avatar
  • 11.5k
1 vote
1 answer
172 views

Phrase that Means Have a Long Happy Life

My boss is German and retires this week. I'd like to sign the note I'm sending her with a German phrase or idiomatic phrase that means something like, "have a long and happy life." I've ...
Flynn's user avatar
  • 113
2 votes
3 answers
622 views

Bedeutung von "noch lange nicht"

Ich bin ein bisschen verwirrt bezüglich der Bedeutung dieser zwei Sätze: Wir sind noch lange nicht fertig mit der Arbeit. Ich denke das bedeutet: wir sind erst seit Kurzem fertig mit der Arbeit. ...
omidreza nouri's user avatar
10 votes
1 answer
876 views

Construction I need help clarifying in Otfried Preußler's "Krabat"

I was reading the novel "Krabat" and came across the following sentences: »Ja«, sagte Lobosch, »heuer zum letzten Mal. Denn nun bin ich hier Lehrjunge auf der Mühle.« Das sagte er voller ...
gast's user avatar
  • 155

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