When German speaking people use and translate German expressions into English, most people won’t understand what we are trying to say. It makes for very funny situations and interesting conversations.
We often end up philosophizing where these expressions might have come from.
Maybe you know where they are from? Or you might have a really funny theory about their origin?
Share them in the comment section below
Try to share it in the language that you are learning
I would like to share some of these expressions with you. Because I think they make learning German so much more fun and a little easier, because they awake a image in your head that is really easy to recall. It also makes for a good laugh! Learning languages with visual images and humor has always been a very great help to me.
Let’s go: German expressions
- „Ich muss ihm/ihr ständig Würmer aus der Nase ziehen“ - I have to constantly pull worms out of their nose - Having to ask them multiple times in order to get an answer.
Your niece is very shy and she doesn’t talk much. Even if you ask her, she gives really minimal answers. You could say: “Dir muss ich ja wirklich alles aus der Nase ziehen.”
Which could be translated into: “I really have to ask you everything in order to get some information from you.” (not very empathic of an expression though )
„Er/Sie hat schon wieder ihren Senf dazu gegeben!“ - They again added their mustard to it- Which means; adding unsolicited opinion on something.
„Es ist mir Wurst!“ - This is Sausage to me. - It means that you don’t care at all.
If someone asks you what movie you’d like to watch. You can say: „ Ist mir Wurst“ Or „Ist mir Wurscht“ and you’ll sound like an authentic German already
- „Ich stehe auf der Leitung/auf dem Schlauch.“ - Standing on the cable/line/hose - Being very slow at understanding something.
If someone is explaining a really hard math equation, and you just cannot grasp what they said. You can say: „Ich stehe völlig auf dem Schlauch. Kannst du mir das noch einmal erklären?“
- „Ich verstehe nur Bahnhof.“ - I only understand train station. - I do not understand at all what has just been said.
Something like „this is only greek to me.“ If someone says this to you, it means that they did not get what you said and that you should maybe explain.
- „Das Mekka aller…“ - The mekka of all…
Mekka is where the prophet Mohammed was born and, according to the Koran, every Muslim should do a pilgrimage to Mekka once in their life. If someone says „das Mekka aller Liebespaare“, you know that it is a very important place where a lot of love-couples go to. (Paris )
- „Ich bin ein Bücherwurm oder eine Leseratte.“ - I am a book-worm or Reading-rat
If you say: “Ich bin ein Bücherwurm”, people will know that you love books and read a lot.
- „Ich bin nicht von gestern!“ - I am not from yesterday!
It is used in the context if you want to tell a person that you are “not stupid/already informed” after they’ve just shared something you already know
- "Mir fällt ein Stein vom Herzen!“ - A rock is falling from my heart! - The relieving feeling after you’ve received very positive news.
You can use this expression when you can finally stop worrying about something or someone.
- „Jemandem auf den Keks gehen.“ - To go on someones cookie. - To annoy someone.
When you have a reallly annoying sister, you could say: „Meine kleine Schwester geht mir so auf den Keks!“
- “Die Daumen gedrückt halten.” - Holding your thumbs pressed - It has the same meaning as „Fingers-crossed“ in English.
When you have an exam coming up and your friend says: „Ich halte dir die Daumen gedrückt!“, it means that they want you to be successful and wish you good luck.
- „Die Ohren lang ziehen.“ - Pulling someones ear long. - To punish someone.
When a child doesn’t behave and a mother says: „Wenn du mir nicht folgst, werde ich dir die Ohren lang ziehen.“, it means that, their Mother will punish them if they don’t start acting right. (By hopefully not actually pulling their ears )
- „Aus einer Ameise einen Elefanten machen.“ - To make an ant into an elephant. - To exaggerate, to make something bigger than it is.
When two siblings are teasing each other and one starts crying and complains to their mother, she could say: „Na, da machst du wieder aus einer Ameise einen Elefanten !“
- "Am Arsch der Welt." - At the butt/rear or end of the world.
When your friend expresses: „Ich bin am Arsch der Welt.“, they are probably in a very remote or isolated place.
° Which expression is your favorite? Or your least favorite? And why?
° Have you already heard or even used some of them?
° There are many many more of these expressions. Feel free to add more to this list in the comment section below.
° And please to not hesitateto ask if you have crossed an expression that you did not understand or some of the mentioned ones aren’t clear to you
Come add your mustard and let’s chat!