WORLD OF TEXT

Funny idioms (with pictures!) part III – German II

Posted on: 1. März 2013

Hallo zusammen :-)

It’s time for another blog entry. As German is my mother tongue and Fips has been the only person commenting on here (thank you :-)), I decided to post a second part of “Funny idioms – German”. Here we go.

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1. etwas in den Sand setzen

„to put sth in the sand“ -> to muck/mess something up

Example 1: „Jim has put the Math test in the sand.“

(Jim hat die Matheprüfung in den Sand gesetzt.)

Example 2: “The company has put €10,000 in the sand.”

(Die Firma hat 10.000 € in den Sand gesetzt.)

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2. auf dem Schlauch stehen

„to be standing on the hose“ -> to not get it/to be stuck/to get one’s wires crossed

I think it’s not a synonym to “only understand station”, because this “hose idiom” is used when something is really obvious/clear as daylight and everyone else has understood it.

Example: “Number ‘3’ is the correct answer?! … Oh gosh, of course!! I was completely standing on the hose!”

(Nummer 3 ist die richtige Antwort?! … Oh mann, natürlich!! Ich stand total auf dem Schlauch!“)

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3. sich etwas abschminken

„to take sth off“ („to remove one’s makeup“) -> synonym to “have cut oneself” -> to have to go without sth.

Example: “If you don’t study now, you can take off the party tonight!”

(Wenn du jetzt nicht lernst, kannst du dir die Party heute Abend abschminken!)

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4. noch in Abrahams Wurstkessel sein

„to be still in Abraham’s sausage pot” -> to be not yet born

Example: “When the war was taking place, you were still in Abraham’s sausage pot.”

(Als der Krieg war, warst du noch in Abrahams Wurstkessel.)

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5. in den sauren Apfel beißen

„to bite into the sour apple“ -> to swallow the bitter pill/to bite the bullet

Example: “I don’t want to spend the whole weekend working but I guess I’ll just have to bite into the sour apple.”

(Ich will nicht das ganze Wochenende mit arbeiten verbringen, aber ich denke da werde ich wohl in den sauren Apfel beißen müssen.)

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6. aus einer Mücke einen Elefanten machen

„to make an elephant out of a gnat” -> to make a mountain out of a molehill

Example: “The two friends argue a lot, mostly they make an elephant out of a gnat.”

(Die zwei Freunde streiten sich oft, meistens machen sie aus einer Mücke einen Elefanten.)

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7. auf Wolke Sieben schweben/sein

I know, Valentine’s Day is already over, but here the correspondent idiom!

“to float/be on cloud seven” -> to be on cloud nine

So as you see, Germans are 2 clouds below ;) Is anyone on cloud eight? Hahaha!

Example: “She has a boyfriend now and she’s floating on cloud seven.”

(Sie hat jetzt einen Freund und schwebt auf Wolke sieben.)

Do you use the English version only for love or for happiness in general?

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8. zum Mäusemelken sein

„to be for mouse-milking“ -> “to be enough to make you crazy”

Example: “The computer program is hanging all the time – it’s for mouse-milking!”

(Das Computerprogramm hängt andauernd – es ist zum Mäusemelken!)

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9. auf der Matte stehen

„to stand on the mat“ -> to be on the spot and ready for action

Example: “For this job you have to stand on the mat at 4 am”.

(Für diesen Job musst du um 4 Uhr früh auf der Matte stehen.)

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10. nicht auf den Mund gefallen sein

„someone didn’t fall on his/her mouth“ -> to have a quick tongue/to have the gift of the gab

Example: “Sarah told them right away what things could be changed about the event. She really didn’t fall on her mouth.”

(Sarah hat ihnen gleich gesagt, was sie am Event ändern könnten. Sie ist wirklich nicht auf den Mund gefallen.)

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11. Bleib/Geh hin, wo der Pfeffer wächst!

„stay/go where the pepper grows“ -> go jump in the lake

Example: „It‘s really getting too colorful to me now. Do what you want and go where the pepper grows!”

(Das wird mir jetzt echt zu bunt. Mach was du willst und geh hin, wo der Pfeffer wächst!)

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12. die Sau rauslassen

„to let the sow out” -> to paint the town red

Example: “Our final exams are finally over. Let’s paint the town red tonight!”

(Unsere Abschlussprüfungen sind endlich vorbei. Lasst uns heute Abend die Sau rauslassen!)

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13. Das kommt nicht in die Tüte!

„This doesn’t come into the bag!” -> “This is out of the question!”; synonym to no. 3 “to take sth off”

Example: “You want to go to a party tonight?! After you put your Math test in the sand?! This doesn’t come into the bag!”

(Du willst heute Abend auf eine Party! Nachdem du deine Matheprüfung in den Sand gesetzt hast?! Das kommt nicht in die Tüte!)

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14. die Nase voll (von etwas) haben

„to have one’s nose full of sth” -> to be fed up with sth

Example: “I have my nose full of rising electricity prices!”

(Ich hab die Nase voll von steigenden Stromkosten!)

Instead of „nose“, you can also say „snout“, but this sounds way ruder.

That’s the end of this blog entry, I hope you liked it, please leave a comment (everyone :P).

Have a nice weekend!

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7 Antworten to "Funny idioms (with pictures!) part III – German II"

Very nice! A few new ones for me there. Number 4 sounds to me like it could be a particularly Bavarian expression, is that right?

Being on cloud nine is being happy, whatever the reason, but I once looked it up (it came up in an English class) and apparently the number has changed, and might do again. Probably the original influence was the phrase “to be in seventh heaven”, which means basically the same, but has an obvious religious origin.

Some of my favourite phrases are those where the same idea is expressed with different subjects, like the Elefant/Mücke vs. mountain/molehill expressions, or Fliegen/Klappe birds/stone. Quite how you’d want to hit two birds with one stone always surprises me!

And a question for you: is there a German phrase like our “to not know someone from Adam”, meaning to barely know someone, if at all?

Hehe yes, as I come from Bavaria, I know this expression. I like those “sausage idioms”, there are so many of them… ahhh inspiration for a new blog entry ;D

Yes, I know “to be in seventh heaven”, too, you can also say so in German. But it only refers to being in love. Using this in German for happiness in general would sound quite odd :O

Oh yes, I was thinking the same!!

Hmm…….no I don’t think so. I can only come up with a phrase meaning the opposite: “Jemanden/Etwas in und auswendig kennen” (to know sth/sb. inside out).
If something comes into my mind, I’ll tell you. But I think we’d only say “I don’t know him at all” or “I have no idea who he is” (Ich kenne ihn überhaupt nicht // Ich habe keine Ahnung/keinen blassen Schimmer, wer er ist)

Thanks, look forward to hearing your ideas! And especially if you can come up with a post just on sausagey idioms, that would be impressive. My girlfriend had never heard of Abraham’s sausage pot either (she’s from Schleswig-Holstein).

But it’s certainly interesting how nigh-on identical phrases which must have the same root have different meanings in English/German, like being on cloud 7/9. Another one is “to have butterflies in your stomach”, which I understand (only?) refers to being in love in German, but for us it’s a feeling of being nervous before any big event, be it a job interview, a stage performance, or a hot date. :-)

I’m already working on the next article :D
Oh you have a German girlfriend? I didn’t know! :D

Ah yes I know this one. When I first read that it has a different meaning in English, I was pretty surprised! Yes in German it only refers to being in love.
Talking of “being in love”, it has always been confusing to me: “being in love with someone”, does it mean that only you are in love, not the other person/you don’t know it, or you have a relationship?, I find this “with” a bit confusing.

Good question, hadn’t thought about it to be honest, but I think you’re right. “I’m in love with your daughter” or as Queen sang “I’m in love with my car” doesn’t necessarily mean the other party reciprocates! But just saying “They are in love” implies ‘with each other’, so you can leave out the ‘with’ part.

Ah yes, “they’re in love” is clear, but what about your “I’m in love with your daughter” example? We don’t know anything about that girl’s feelings here, right? So “being in love with someone” can also be confusing to native speakers? I’m relieved!! :D

[…] however, the origins of these phrases are often mysterious or disputed. Inspired by this short post series over on the World Text blog, I thought I’d take a look at a handful of German idioms relating […]

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