Top 12 German sayings

The Local Austria
The Local Austria - [email protected]
Top 12 German sayings
What's that about a beard? Photo: Thaddaus Zoltkowski

The Local List shines a little light on some of the charming eccentricities of the German language.


German is a language to fall in love with, slowly. It’s not immediately attractive, and to the untrained ear it can sound harsh. It might not have a reputation for being the most creative of languages but it has a wealth of funny sayings to draw on. 
Idioms present a unique challenge in any language to a foreigner because it can be hard to figure out what they mean from a literal translation.
Take the very common English idiom “to kick the bucket” - meaning, to die. In German, it becomes “den Löffel abgeben” (to give the spoon away) or “sich die Radieschen von unten ansehen” (to look at the radishes from underneath).
But for all the frustration of learning them, idioms are great, and make an excellent weapon in any linguistic arsenal, making you sound like you know what you're talking about in any conversation with a local. 
So, to make your transition into the German-speaking world a little easier, and stop you from getting "lost in translation" here are the Local’s top 12 German idioms and their English meanings.
By Francois Badenhorst. 
Photo: APA/Hochmuth



Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also