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German sayings involving forests and trees

Dagmar Breitenbach
April 22, 2020

The forest may serve as a place of refuge during the coronavirus crisis. Traditionally, Germans are known for their love of the woods — and they also have a host of wonderful sayings and phrases revolving around them.

Deutschland Nationalpark Rostock-Warnemünde
Image: picture-alliance/360-Berlin/J. Knappe

Evergreens are part and parcel of German forests — and their language. Wald, the German term for forest, or Baum (tree), are words that crop up in many everyday German sayings and phrases. To underline Arbor Day, which is celebrated on the last Friday in April every year, we've collected a few.

Some expressions are self-explanatory, like not seeing the forest for the trees. Others, like "einen Ast lachen" (literally, laugh a branch), which means to be convulsed with laughter, and "Süssholz raspeln" (literally, grating licorice root), which means sweet-talking someone, may sound a bit odd to non-native ears.

Click on the above picture gallery for more German phrases that utilize the terminology — and imagery — of the forest.

You'll find more from Meet the Germans on YouTube or at dw.com/MeettheGermans.

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