Austrian German phrase of the day: Sich ausgehen

Tom Ashton-Davies
Tom Ashton-Davies - [email protected]
Austrian German phrase of the day: Sich ausgehen
Photo: Francesco Ungaro / Unsplash + Nicolas Raymond / flickr

This small phrase, commonly used in Austria, yet unknown in most parts of Germany, could change your plans for the day.


Why do I need to know it? 

For many Germans, this verb phrase won’t make much sense. However, it is heard throughout Austria and its several different meanings can have different effects that you should be aware of.

What does it mean? 

In Germany, sich ausgehen would literally translate as ‘to come/go out of itself’, which naturally is rather confusing. In Austria however, you will often hear ‘das geht sich aus’ which means that works or that fits. 

For example, when calling a doctor’s office for an appointment, the receptionist may reply with ‘das geht sich nicht aus’ (that doesn’t work), indicating that the doctor doesn’t have time for you. 

Alternatively, imagine you have just finished assembling a new IKEA bookcase. As you and a friend position it wherever you wish, your friend could turn to you and say ‘das geht sich gut aus!’ - that fits well! 

‘Sich ausgehen’ can also be used in business contexts. During negotiations with a buyer, they may say ‘das geht sich leider nicht aus’, suggesting that something is unfortunately out of their budget.


Where does it come from?

Experts claim that the phrase originated in the 19th century as a result of migration. As you can see, the phrase is rather colloquial; therefore, this date represents the earliest recorded instance of the phrase in its spoken form. Migration is also cited as the reason for the phrase spreading to Germany, where it is occasionally heard in the southern regions, such as Munich.  

How do you use it?

Wir haben nur drei Minuten. Denkst du, dass wir rechtzeitig zum Zug kommen werden?

Das geht sich nie und nimmer aus. 

We only have three minutes. Do you think that we will arrive in time for the train?

That’s never going to happen.

Hast du genug Geld für das Geschenk?

Ja, es sollte sich ausgehen 

Do you have enough money to buy the present?

Yes, I should have enough/ Yes, it should be OK.

Ist im Koffer noch Platz für meine Schuhe?

Ja, das geht sich schon noch aus. 

Is there still room in the suitcase for my shoes?

Yes, they will fit/ yes, that will be fine.



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