Top 10 German idioms
When it comes to German, legendary for its linguistic precision, there's often little room for interpretation. But even German sometimes strays from its literal roots, leaving some of us scratching our heads.
If you've won the lottery, aced an exam that you didn't study for, or escaped being recruited for an unwanted task, lucky you! "Schwein gehabt!" You had a pig. In many cultures, pigs serve their main purpose on dinner plates. In Germany they do too - but, oddly enough, they also happen to be lucky.
Not all cups in the cupboard
If he doesn't have "alle Tassen im Schrank," then he happens to be crazy. English speakers would similarly say he's gone mad, or he's "lost his marbles."
I understand only train station
The German phrase, "Ich verstehe nur Bahnhof," doesn't mean the speaker speaks only the language of train stations. Rather, the statement indicates utter confusion. A comparable English phrase would be, "It's all Greek to me."
Life is not a pony farm
Suck it up, cowboy. When the going gets tough, someone is bound to remind you that "das Leben ist kein Ponyhof." In other words, life isn't fair, it's not a bed of roses, nor is it a bowl of cherries.
I have the nose full
"Ich habe die Nase voll" could potentially be interpreted to mean aning that someone needs a tissue. But more than likely it means enough is enough: The speaker is fed up with a particular situation.
Hop and malt is lost
The idiom stems from beer brewing - surprise! What would a list of German idioms be without reference to amber nectar? If "Hopfen und Malz is verloren," then you'd better just give up hope because it is a lost cause. Should something go wrong in the brewing process, the ingredients were considered wasted, and a good beer was thus, a lost cause.
Beautiful celebration night!
If your colleagues wish you a "schönen Feierabend" after a day in the office, they're hoping you have a pleasurable post-work evening. Don't be fooled by hard-working Germans: They know how to play just as hard. So much in fact, that once Germans clock out - even after a night shift that ends at 6:00 am - the remainder of the day is considered a party.
It's sausage to me
Now that you're off work, maybe you're open to suggestions on how to spend your post-work celebration. If it doesn't matter what you do, tell your friends, "es ist mir Wurst," and they'll know you're not talking about sausage, but that you really don't have an opinion one way or another.
I press my thumbs for you
When they're wishing you good luck, friends will say "Ich drücke dir die Daumen" and may even raise their fists upwards to show you. In English, this good-will sentiment includes the hands, but fingers are crossed instead of pressed.
Lies have short legs
Stretching the truth might work in the short term, but it won't last. In the long run, "Lügen haben kurze Beine," which means the falsehood won't withstand time and could at some point come back to haunt you. The only thing these Dachshunds have in common with lies, is that they also have short legs.