10 Really Useful Idioms In German. No Bullshit

10 Really Useful Idioms In German. No Bullshit

Finally my first post after a long break! And, after long investigations, I picked up 10 most useful idioms in German. And I promise you´ll meet them in everyday´s situations, media etc. Without further ado, let´s start!

Tote Hose

Literally: “Dead trousers”. It means something boring or describes a place or an event where nothing´s happening. You can find pretty good examples on Reverso Context. I haven´t found a proper English equivalent idiom, however.

Den Faden verlieren

Literally and by meaning: “Lose the thread“. Again, a few examples can be taken from Reverso Context.

Öl ins Feuer gießen

Literally, and also by meaning: “to add fuel to the fire/flames” or “to fan the flames“. This idiom is mostly encountered on the mass media, like daily news etc. And, most frequently, it refers to an aggravating situation or worsening of relationships between some countries. “To stir things up” is another English equivalent I discovered on Reverso Context.

(Jemanden) im Regen stehen lassen

Translated literally, it means “to leave someone to stay in the rain” which stays for leaving one with his/her problems. A synonymous expression is “Jemanden im Stich lassen” As to the correct equivalents in English, I was overwhelmed by the variety of them. “Leave somebody out in the cold” and “leave sb. to twist in the wind” are the most trustworthy examples I was able to find.

Zwei Fliegen mit einer Klappe schlagen

The literal translation “To hit two flies with one clap” has a perfect English equivalent.. “to kill two birds with one stone“. So, who is crueller? 😉 The principal meaning is accomplishing two tasks or solving two problems with one single action.

Die Katze im Sack kaufen

Let´s continue with the animals. Germans say: “to buy a cat in a bag/sack“. What do native English use instead? According to dict.cc, “to do a blind bargain” or “to buy a pig in a poke“. Usually, it refers to doing or choosing something without knowing the outcome.

(Jemnadem) auf den Sack gehen

And now, talking about bags 🙂 Don´t forget to use this expression with Dativ, but for the rest, it´s one the most practical German idioms to use if someone is getting on your nerves. Say “Du gehst mir richtig auf den Sack!” if you want to repel someone really annoying you.

Die Chemie stimmt

The chemistry is right” – I was surprised to find an exact English “sibling” of that German idiom. Mostly it refers to an ideal relationship or to a job interview when a candidate is perfectly suitable to take a new job.

Das sind zwei Paar Schuhe

“There are two pairs of shoes” – this is what in English calls “two very different animals” or “quite another cup of tea”, according to dict.cc. Anyway, “another pair of shoes” is also spoken, apparently. As you may guess, it describes things that are completely different. Usually, it comes if someone´s warning you to discuss different topics separately and not to mix them up.

(Für jemanden) die Hand ins Feuer legen

The literal meaning is “to put one´s hand into the fire for somebody” and, to be honest, I used to hear only in the TV series. A more or less correspondent expression in English is “to put someone´s SHIRT(??) on somebody“. For example, “Für diesen Mann lege ich die Hand ins Feuer” – “I’d put my shirt on that man” or “I would give that man the shirt off my back“. Anyway, the German idiom has nothing to do with generosity, as it may result from the English interpretation. “Hand ins Feuer legen” rather means that you trust someone like yourself. Thus, the most correct equivalent in English could be “to guarantee for somebody” or “to stand bail for somebody“.

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