German idioms: What people mean when they make nails with heads, or shout about showing you where the hammer hangs. Don't expect a visit to their workshop!
"That is the hammer!"
If you hear a German say "Das ist der Hammer!" they're talking about something that's brilliant or absolutely dreadful, expressing their amazement or frustration about something that's completely unusual, unexpected — perhaps reflecting the way the tool could just change everything with a single strike.
There is a great variety of everyday German idioms and phrases that use colorful images, from arms and legs to hats and sleeves, donkeys and monkeys, cherries, peas and potatoes — as well as terms from the world of tools and workshops, often dating back hundreds of years.
In English, people may have an ax to grind — the German phrase with the same meaning uses entirely different imagery: Germans would more commonly have a chicken to pluck ("Hühnchen zu rupfen"). Other phrases are readily recognizable in both languages, as both German and English-language speakers can have a screw loose!
Click through the gallery above to learn more German expressions involving tools.