My Favorite German Idioms

Idioms make it easier for me to learn German because they are so much fun. I use it almost all the times, from answering emails at work to social gatherings. German language is so rich with idioms. I can always find German Idioms to describe any situation.

Here are some of my favorites:

When you know how things work

You say, “Ich weiß wie der Hase läuft“. The literal translation is I know how the rabbit runs. The rabbit is known for making many tricks on the run so that its pursuer cannot catch up with it. This is a clever tactic for “running” away from danger. When someone says that she knows how the rabbit runs, she is showing that she is able to assess the appropriate “tricks” to be safe.

When you see someone experiences an instant karma

You say, “Kleine Sünden bestraft der liebe Gott sofort“. Literally: Minor sins are punished by God right away.

When you don’t get along with someone

You say, “Mit ihm ist nicht gut Kirschen essen“. It means that it’s not good to eat cherry with him.

The sentence comes from the Middle Ages. At that time cherries were still very rare and expensive. Rich people in the Middle Ages could afford cherries and they threw some kind of cherries-eating party. However, if someone who was not invited came, he would be spat on with cherry stones. Therefore, it was not good to eat cherries with them.

When you hear information that is not relevant anymore

You say, “Schnee von gestern” which means yesterday’s snow. A French ballad from the 16th century has this famous wistful line: “Where are the snows from years gone by?”

When you want to calm yourself or others

You say, “Abwarten und teetrinken”. This literally means wait and drink tea. The idea is not to drive yourself crazy. This is a perfect expression to go through pandemic this year.

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