Learn German Easily
Created by Lucas Kern
German Idioms and Expressions
Here are some German idioms and expressions you should know!
Some are hilarious and others have a historical background. With these idioms you will also get to know German culture and you will pick up some important words and phrases.
Das Leben ist kein Ponyhof
The literal meaning: “Life is no pony farm“
However, the meaning is: “Life can be challenging!“
eine Extrawurst haben wollen
The literal meaning is: “to ask for an extra sausage“
However, in German we use this: “to ask for special treatment!“
Da kannst du Gift drauf nehmen
Have you heard this German idiom before?
The literal meaning is: “You can take poison on that” and it might seem a little grim, but it’s similar to the English phrase: “You can bet your life on that” which means you can be absolutely certain!
Du hast (doch) einen Vogel
The literal meaning is: “You have a bird.“
However, the German meaning is: “You are crazy” or “You’re nuts!”
Ich glaub mein Schwein pfeift
The literal meaning is: “I think my pig whistles.“
It can express indignation, astonishment, or amazement at something unbelievable.
(Sich fühlen wie) ein Fisch auf dem Trockenen
The literal meaning is: “(feeling like) a fish on the dry“
The German meaning is: “Feeling out of place; different to other people.“
Ich habe Schwein gehabt
Literally it means: “I’ve had a pig“
In German we use this idiom to say: “I was dead lucky“.
It is said that someone has “Schwein gehabt” if they have been lucky without having done anything themselves to earn it.
The origin of this saying is uncertain.
But we suspect that the idiom originated in the Middle Ages.
At that time, sometimes the worst in a competition was given a pig as a consolation prize. This made them look ridiculous, but they also got something valuable, because pigs were considered valuable at that time.
Sie spielt die beleidigte Leberwurst
The literal meaning is: “She is playing the insulted liver sausage.“
And the German meaning is: “She is sulking because she didn’t get
what she wanted.“
Schlafen wie ein Murmeltier
The literal meaning is: “Sleep like a marmot“
The German meaning is: “Sleep very deeply“
The literal meaning is: “Have a good slide“
The German meaning is: “Have a good year“
Ich bin fix und fertig
The literal meaning is: “I’m quick and ready.“
The German meaning is: “I’m exhausted“.
Ich verstehe nur Bahnhof
Literally it means: “I only understand train station.“
And the German meaning is: “I don’t understand anything“.
Komm schon, spring über deinen Schatten
Literally it means: “Come on, jump over your shadow“
And the German meaning is: “Get out of your comfort zone!“.
Du nimmst mich auf den Arm!
Literally: “You’re taking
me on your arm!“
In German the meaning is: “You’re joking“.
Tomaten auf den Augen haben
Literally: “To have tomatoes
on one’s eyes“
In German the meaning is: “To be oblivious to what is going around you“.
Jetzt haben wir den Salat
Literally: “Now we have the salad“
In German the meaning is: “Now everything is a mess“.
Öl ins Feuer gießen
Literally: “Pour oil on the fire“
In German the meaning is: “to make a bad situation worse“.
Du gehst mir auf den Keks
Literally it means: “You’re walking on my cookie“
In German we use this idiom to say: “You’re annoying me“.
Ich habe einen Kater
Literally it means: “I have a male cat“
However, in German we also use this expression as an idiom to say that we have a hangover.
Da steppt der Bär
Literally it means: “The bear dances there“.
In German we use this idiom to say that it is or will be a good party.
Das ist mir Wurst
Literally it means: “This is sausage to me“
In German you say that “if you are indifferent or don’t care about something“.
Das ist ein Katzensprung
Literally, it means “that’s a cat’s jump“, but in German we use it to talk about
a place that’s close.
It is similar to “a stone’s throw away“
Wo sich Fuchs und Hase gute Nacht sagen
Literally it means: where fox and hare say goodnight to one another.
However, in German we also use this expression as an idiom to say a place is very far away.
It’s similar to saying “in the middle of nowhere” or “out in the sticks.”
Here is more for you
You should definitely also visit the following pages:
And here are some blog articles that might interest you
- How to learn German fast
- Check out these long words in German and impress your friends
- Castles of Germany – from Neuschwanstein (Cinderella’s) to Frankenstein’s Castle
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