Edit post Follow this blog Administration + Create my blog

Published by jack elliot



Du machst aus einer Mücke einen Elefanten - you re making a mountain out of a molehill

Unusual German words and colloquialisms. 

Erklärungsnot - Explanation poverty

It’s what you find yourself in when put on the spot without a sufficient explanation or excuse for something you have done or failed to do. Most often used in the form of in Erklärungsnot geraten or in Erklärungsnot sein.

Fernweh - Distance pain

Is a longing to travel to far away places. It is an antonym of Heimweh (homesickness) Wanderlust can also be used to mean the same thing.

Fremdschämen - Exterior shame

It is to feel ashamed about something someone else has done. Or to be embarrassed because someone else has embarrassed themselves without noticing.

Innerer Schweinehund - Inner pig dog

Is the voice in your head that incites lazy procrastination and putting something off!

Kuddelmuddel - Confusion

Is an unstructured mess, chaos, or hodgepodge. Alternatives which are equally awesome include Tohuwabohu, Wirrwarr, Mischmasch, and Kladderadatsch.

Kummerspeck - Grief bacon

This means the excess weight put on by emotional overeating!

Lebensmüde - Life tired

Means to be weary of life. Used to call your friends when they are attempting something especially stupid and possibly life threatening.

Ohrwurm - Ear worm

Describes having a catchy song stuck in your head that you can't get rid of, long after you've finished listening.

Sitzfleisch - Sit or seat meat

Describes the strong character trait of endurance. The ability to endure or carry on with an activity.

Schattenparker - Shadow parker

An insult for men which to accuse them of unmanly behavior. In this case, of parking their car in the shadow to avoid heating up the interior. Other insults include: Warmduscher (someone who showers with warm water), Sitzpinkler (a man who pees while sitting down), or Turnbeutelvergesser (someone who used to forget their gym bag in cardio class).

Torschlusspanik - Closing-gate panic

Is the feeling of urgency to accomplish goals in life before some imaginary gate closes and that time has run out. Before, "its all too late".

Treppenwitz -Staircase wit

Is the conversational remark that comes to your mind on the way down the stairs after talking with your neighbour after the opportunity has passed. Also in French: l'esprit de l'escalier.

Weltschmerz - World pain

The kind of feeling experienced by someone who understands that physical reality can never satisfy the demands of the mind in a world that isn’t perfect. More often than not, it fails to live up to what we wish it was.

Weichei - Soft egg

Slang term for wuss, softy or wimp. A soft egg, in German, means someone who is weak and cowardly. The similar is also conveyed by calling someone Würstchen, the diminutive of sausage.

Zungenbrecher - Tongue breaker

Tongue twister. E.g: A common one in German is Blaukraut bleibt Blaukraut und Brautkleid bleibt Brautkleid.



etwas auf die lange Bank schieben - "to push something onto the long bench" or 
etw. vor sich her schieben - "to push something around in front of oneself": 
To avoid doing something that has to be done, i.e. to procrastinate

die Kirche im Dorf lassen - "keeping the church in the village": 
usually used in a manner of telling someone not to exaggerate or not to mingle different topics/facts, e.g. "Na, jetzt wollen wir die Kirche aber mal im Dorf lassen!"

aus einer Mücke einen Elefanten machen - "turning a midge into an elephant" 
"to make a mountain of a molehill", making something more dramatic or more important than it really is (especially a problem or something negative)

etwas verkramen - (kramen = to rummage) - note: colloquial and not sure if used everywhere 
to lose something in chaos, in rummaging, e.g. "Wo ist denn dein Buch?" - "Ach, das habe ich irgendwie verkramt..."

jemandem ein Ohr ablabern - to talk somebody's ear off (labern = to babble) 
to keep talking endlessly, often without noticing that the other person doesn't want to talk anymore and in an annoying way. E.g. can be used as a complaint: "Hans hat mich angerufen und mir schon wieder ein Ohr abgelabert!" but can have a more friendly connotation, simply making fun of the fact that someone babbles a lot.


kratzbürstig sein / eine Kratzbürste sein - being a scratch brush 
being a "scratching-cat", i.e. a mieschievous woman

ein Unschuldslamm sein - being a lamb of innocence 
being a "choir-boy", i.e. a very innocent person or, depending on the tone and context, somoeone who pretends to be totally innocent

ein Angsthase sein - being a fear rabbit 
"being a chicken", being more scared than the others, being afraid of something harmless, not being daring

ein Kuscheltier - a snuggle-animal 
a stuffed animal :)

ein Scherzkeks sein - being a joke cookie 
being a joker, depending on the tone sometimes also used for someone who makes a lot of jokes that aren't really funny e.g. "Ha, ha. Du bist ja ein richtiger Scherzkeks!" (not)

"Schwein gehabt!" - Had a pig! 
An expression used to demonstrate that you were really lucky, or that you got off lightly in a difficult situation.

Ohrwurm - Ear worm - Och nee schon wieder ein Ohrwurm. Der geht mir heute schon den ganzen Tag nicht aus em (=dem) Ohr.

Erklärungsnot. Er geriet in Erklärungsnot, als seine kleine Tochter eines Abends ins Elternschlafzimmer kam.

Lebensmüde - Life tired - Du musst doch lebensmüde sein! Bungeejumping! Wie kannst du nur!

Torschlusspanik - Closing-gate panic - yeap, common, very common if you have it.

Weichei - Soft egg - Du bist ein (solches) Weichei! Du kannst nicht mal mit der Faust auf den Tisch hauen! (the second sentence: You are not able to say your opinion.)

Kummerspeck - emotional fat (bacon) on/in your body - also a word for the time after Chrismas and for all the other seasons! ;)

Innerer Schweinehund - (the inner lazyness) Every year after the first January the advertisement told you 'Du musst deinen inneren Schweinehund überwinden!' -to get sporty, or something else.

Kuddelmuddel - Confusion- is more used in the north of Germany, but the others out of the south parts of Germany will understand it as well, won't they?


Sitzfleisch - Sit or seat meat -not in my active language usage, ask others they will say, they use it often.

Schattenparker - Shadow parker

Treppenwitz -Staircase wit -exists, but I can nothing tell about.

Weltschmerz - World pain, rarly used, we talk about war, crisis, and so on

Würstchen, exists

... Zungenbrecher - Tongue twister. E.g: A common one in German is Blaukraut bleibt Blaukraut und Brautkleid bleibt Brautkleid. -it is a normal word, such normal as joke.


Dreikäsehoch is often used for children's size. 'Noch bist du ein Dreikäsehoch, also rede nicht so klug daher! (smile)' Backpfeifengesicht exists not everywhere in Germany, please take the word not at the first position. Kuddelmuddelseems in my eyes also a word which is not everywhere used.



"Dreikäsehoch" means "three - cheeses - high", meaning the kid is as big as three loaves of cheese on top of each other (so rather small). 
"Backpfeifengesicht" comes together from "Backpfeife", which is a pretty outdated word for a slap in the face, and "Gesicht", which means face. Together, it means a face that begs to be slapped.
I don't know where "Kuddelmuddel" exactly comes from, but I guess it's just a messy word to describe a real mess.



"Wenn Fliegen hinter Fliegen fliegen, fliegen Fleigen Fliegen nach" 

Wenn hinter Fliegen Fliegen fliegen, fliegen Fliegen Fliegen nach“. - When flies fly behind flies, flies fly after flies.

I overheard it in a conversation in Germany  but completely forgot about it. Until now


And there are loads of others if you're interested: http://german.about.com/od/pronunciation/a/tonguetwisters_2.htm

verschlimmbessern: "To improve something but actually making everything worse"



verschlimmbessern is a really interesting word. Sort of an honest attempt at failure! German language seems to love building with oxymorons it's very poetic


Jemanden durch den Kakao ziehen: Pull someone through hot chocolate. It means to make fun of somebody. Erbsenzähler: Somebody that counts peas. It is the german word for nitpicker. Mit dem Kopf durch die Wand gehen: Go trough the wall with the head. It means that you make your thing without a compromise

I love these! :) A little contribution:

Here are some phrases to express that someone isn't quite right in the head. They all mean the same.

  • nicht alle Tassen im Schrank haben

  • nicht alle Latten am Zaun haben

  • einen Knall / einen Vogel / eine Meise haben

  • einen Sprung in der Schüssel haben

  • nicht ganz bei Trost sein

And some phrases to use when you're going nuts or when you just can't believe what's happening:

  • Ich glaub, ich spinn!

  • Ich glaub, mich tritt ein Pferd!

  • Ich glaub, ich bin im falschen Film!

  • Ich glaub, mein Schwein pfeift!


Maurerdekolleté - builder's cleavage



der Hackepeter. (Beware of thinking 'chopped Peter'.)

der Hexenschuss. (Have you never seen 'a shot of a witch'? It is a special pain.



Hackepeter is copped meat with spice and salt, some add a whole egg to, some only a part of an egg, and I guess some omit an egg. You don't cook it, you don't bake nor roast it. So you eat it like sushi, raw (german: roh) ! Hackepeter is served on bread. You should not store it, because of the egg and because of the raw meat.

'Ein Hexenschuss' hurts very much. 'Es sind höllische Schmerzen' ~hurts like the hell. The doctors call it "Lumbago" or "acute Lumbalgie".

some other good phrases in German are:

  • die Stimme ölen
  • um den heißen Brei reden
  • sich bei jemanden einschleimen
  • Himmel hoch jauchzen
  • Wenn Blicke töten könnten.

Hackepeter is a synonym to the more common word “Mett”. Wikipedia says Hexenschuss is “low back pain” or the mentioned lumbago in English. I guess that “Himmel hoch jauchzen” is really “himmelhoch jauchzen”, but that term is rarely used nowadays. It isn't an idiom. But anyway, here are translations for the phrases: die Stimme ölen: “oil the voice” — I don't know what this is supposed to mean. um den heißen Brei (herum) reden: “talk around the hot porridge” — to beat around the bush sich (bei jemandem) einschleimen: “to slime in to someone” — to suck up to, to kiss up to someone Wenn Blicke töten könnten: “If looks/gazes could kill” — when someone looks at you very angry

to oil the voice. ~ if you have a non-normal/non-good voice, you can 'oil your voice', like a rusty machine, and afterwards your voice sounds good. -In English you can not use this phrase!-

Have you heart of 'Der Wolf und die sieben Geißlein' (The Wolf and the Seven Young Goats)? There the wolf eats chalk to get a higher voice.

In the end, your voice stay like it is. I have never eaten chalk, - maybe someone has and can tell us - but I don't believe the voice change.

Helium and other gases, like you all know, can change your voice.

Tohuwabohu actually has a Hebrew origin. (I think it means nothingness and emptiness, literally.) I see nothing wrong with shadow parking.There are a lot of words and phrases that came from Hebrew over Jiddisch into the German language: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liste_deutscher_W%C3%B6rter_aus_dem_Hebr%C3%A4ischen_und_Jiddischen

I see nothing wrong with shadow parking.

Nothing wrong with showering in warm water either! I think that's the point of these expressions -- they jokingly imply that the speaker is used to some ludicrously exaggerated standard of macho behaviour.

(I confess the "cardio class" one confuses me a little though. Surely signing up for a cardio class at all puts you in the Schattenparker category -- all the Kaltduscher, Sonnenparker, Stehpinkler types would be getting their exercise through activities like ice-climbing and bear-wrestling...)

So a "Turnbeutelvergesser" (=one who forgets their sports bag) is the kind of oblivious kid that gets bullied in school.



jemanden an die Wand reden - to talk someone against the wall 
meaning that someone is superior to another in talking or in a discussion, so that the other person figuratively stands with their back against the wall.

etwas ausbaden müssen - (baden = to bathe) 
to have to go through something that has been caused by a mistake of oneself or someone else, e.g.: "Na toll, du hast was angestellt und ich darf es wieder ausbaden!" (etw. anstellen = to get up to something / to get into mischief)

die Suppe auslöffeln müssen - to have to spoon out the soup 
to have to solve a problem or go through a tricky situation

jemandem etwas einbrocken - (der Brocken = the chunk) 
to get someone into trouble

jemandem die Brutter vom Brot nehmen/klauen - to take/steal someone's butter off their bread 
to get the profit for another one's effort, often snatching it away right in front of them

mit jemandem ein Hühnchen zu rupfen haben - to have a chicken to pluck with someone 
to have to talk to someone about something they did wrong or an offence/a problem; usually forecasting that they will get into an argument (but can be said jokingly as well)



„den Geist aufgeben“ — “give up the ghost/spirit”: (of technical/electronic devices) to stop working



Eine extrawurst verlangen - to ask for an extra sausage.

To ask for special treatment

(Via deutsch-doodles.tumblr.com)





There is this funny word for sweets in it I often use: "Naschi" ^^ (it is a shortened form of the old word "Naschwerk"/Süßigkeit)


Naschwerk the origin of "Naschkatze" (person with a sweet tooth) 



he same origin. verb = "naschen" (nibble)

-you often use "naschen" when you take a bit of something forbidden.. like cookie dough when "your mother said not to do so".. or the chocolate you only get from your grandmother - like in the song

and "nibble" is better translated with "knabbern"







To be informed of the latest articles, subscribe:
Comment on this post