Streetwise German - Some German Idioms
While German idiom you will hear almost every day in Germany describing one situation or another is "Alles ist im grünen Bereich". It could be referring to anything from successfully filling the gas tank without maxing out the credit card, baking a cake or booking a flight to some sub-tropical island.
"Alles ist im grünen Bereich" is literally "Everything is in the green area" - "Everything is under control"...that it is OK.
They may seem to be "eccentric" sometimes, but German idioms are used by native speakers to cover just about every situation, and heard in all social circles and circumstances. Not only in conversation, but throughout the media and literature.
It is streetwise, colloquial German.
As with all languages some German expressions can be meaningless, even bizarre, if taken word for word, but are used to represent something: a feeling, a description, almost anything.
As idioms make up a large part of everyday speech in Germany, they are sometimes confusing for anyone who has never heard them before and has no idea what they mean.
With their origins lying in its history, literature, religion and traditions, a country's colloquial expressions indicate a great deal about the community's way of thinking, so with Kein Aber - "No But" - No "ifs", "ands" or "buts", here to enjoy, and give you an insight into the German language and Germany's people, are some of the most common sayings used in everyday speech throughout the country.
Achtung, Fertig, Los - Ready, set, go - On your mark, ready, go
Wenn der Kuchen spricht hat der Krümel ruhig zu sein - The crumble has to be quiet when the cake is talking - When grown ups are talking, children should listen/be quiet
Ich lach mich krumm - I laugh myself bent - That is really funny
Du bist allererste Sahne - You are the very first cream - You are the best
Sich pudelwohl fühlen - To feel as good as a poodle - To feel on top of the world
Mit jemandem unter vier Augen sprechen - To talk with someone under four eyes - To talk privately with someone.
Definitely not flattering:
Nicht alle Tassen im Schrank haben - Not to have all cups in the cupboard - Not the sharpest knife in the drawer
Dumm wie Bohnenstroh sein - To be as dumb as a bundle of bean straw -To be as thick as two short planks, to be very stupid
Du gehst mir auf den Keks - You get on my cookie - You get on my nerves
Geh dahin wo der Pfeffer wächst - Go where the pepper is growing - Go take a long walk off a short pier
Null acht fünfzehn - Zero eight fifteen - Nothing special
Das kommt mir nicht in die Tüte - That doesn't go in my bag - It's not my kind of thing
Das ist nicht das gelbe vom Ei - That's not the yolk of the egg - It's not exactly brilliant
Ich habe keinen Bock - I have no buck - I can't be bothered
Then there is:
Hummeln im Hintern haben - To have bumble-bees in one's bottom - To have ants in the pants
Ganz aus dem Häuschen sein - To be out of his/her house - To be really excited
Auch ein blindes Huhn findet mal ein Korn - A blind chicken will find a corn eventually - Something good that happens by chance
Friede, Freude, Eierkuchen - Freedom, Joy and Omelette - Everything's absolutely fine
Jemanden durch den Kakao ziehen - To pull someone through the cocoa - To pull someone's leg
Die Sau raus lassen - To let the sow out - To let your hair down
Wo drueckt der Schuh? - Where does the shoe pinch = What troubles you?
Mit dem linken Fuss aufstehen - Got up with the left foot - To have one of those days
Ich seh Schwarz - I see black - I have a bad feeling about it
Die Haare vom Kopf fressen - To eat the hair from someone's head - To eat someone out of house and home
Herz in die Hose rutschen - The heart slides into the trousers - My heart sank
And another favorite German phrase "aus einer Mücke einen Elefanten machen" - "to make an elephant out of a mosquito" - to make something seem much bigger/more important than it is.
Just a few of the many idioms you will come across in colloquial German, but perhaps not all of them in one day.
Hope you enjoy them and that they have given you some insights into Germany and Germans, and when you hear or want to use one you will then..."Eine zusätzliche Wurst haben" - "Have an extra sausage" - Have an advantage.
And will not have to think "Da bin ich überfragt" - "I have been over asked" - Hmmm, now there you have got me!
Photo: Begrüntes Haus in Gießen by Joe Shoe ("dittmeyer") via Wikimedia.
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