25 Cool German Idioms That Will Make You Sound Like A Native

Posted by , Updated on February 12, 2018

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Being a Germanic language, English has a lot in common with German, including its extensive usage of idiomatic sayings. Today we’re going to take a look at some popular German idioms and proverbs that Germans like to use. So whether you are planning on traveling or just want to improve your Deutsch, these are 25 cool German idioms that will make you sound like a native!


25

Tomaten auf den Augen haben

tomatoesSource: duden, wiktionary, Image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/the_ewan/2962762666

Translation: “To have tomatoes in your eyes”.

Meaning: Not being able to see obvious things. Sort of like saying “he has his head in the sand.”

24

Ich verstehe nur Bahnhof

trainSource: duden, wiktionary, Image: https://www.pexels.com/photo/rails-public-transportation-station-train-station-3849/

Translation: “I only understand train station”.

Meaning: I don’t understand anything that is being said. Apparently it originates from the fact that when announcements are made at train stations they are usually hard to understand, so all you get is “bla bla bla bahnhof (trainstation)”. Hence, only understanding “train station”.

23

Die Katze im Sack kaufen

catSource: duden, wiktionary, Image: https://www.pexels.com/photo/grey-and-white-short-fur-cat-104827/

Translation: “To buy a cat in a sack”.

Meaning: To buy something without inspecting it first. In the old days, sellers at the market would sometimes stuff a worthless cat into the buyer’s bag instead of the rabbit they had ordered. Apparently rabbits taste better.

22

Das ist mir Wurst

sausageSource: duden, wiktionary, Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Italian_sausage_on_the_grill.jpg

Translation: “It’s all sausage to me”.

Meaning: I don’t care. One theory as to where this came from is that it doesn’t really matter what a sausage is filled with, as long as it tastes good.

21

Spinnst du?

spinning wheelSource: duden, wiktionary, Image: https://pixabay.com/en/spinning-wheel-old-spinning-wheel-1126016/

Translation: “Are you spinning?”

Meaning: Are you making stuff up/crazy? This originates from the fact that back in the day women used to sit up all night spinning and they would tell each other stories to pass the time. Today, however, it generally means something more along the lines of “are you crazy?”.



Image Credits: 1-4. Public Domain, 5. Patrik Ragnarsson from Linköping, Sweden via commons.wikimedia.org CC BY 2.0, 6-7. Public Domain, 8. © Copyright John Palmer via geograph.org.uk CC BY-SA 2.0, 9. Yathin S Krishnappa via commons.wikimedia.org CC BY-SA 3.0, 10-12. Public Domain, 13. Photo taken by Yannick Trottier, 2005 via en.wikipedia.org CC BY-SA 3.0, 14. Max Piel Public Domain, 15. Public Domain, 16. Richard Huber via commons.wikimedia.org CC BY-SA 3.0, 17-21. Public Domain, 22. Steven Depolo via commons.wikimedia.org CC BY 2.0, 23-24. Public Domain, 25. No name via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0.

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