“Drink poison? Bite the grass? What are you talking about, do you want to kill me?”

That is what you will think during a conversation with a native German if you do not know the idioms that they are using in their everyday language, because idioms is something of a secret to the people of that language.

Here are 11 of those that you will find very useful:

  1. Da kannst du Gift drauf nehmen: This literally means to take poison on something, but the English equivalent is to say, you can bet your life on that.
  2. Zwei Fliegen mit einer Klappe schlagen: On a literal level it means to kill two flies with one swat, but it really means to kill two birds with one stone.
  3. Himmel und Hölle in Bewegung setzen: Literally this means to put heaven and hell in motion, yet the English equivalent is to move heaven and earth.
  4. Ich drucke dir die Daumen: The direct translation says to press your thumbs for someone and the idiom in English with the same meaning is: I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you
  5.  Nicht alle seine Tassen sind im Schrank: The literal translation says he does not have all of his cups in the cupboard, but in reality it means that he have lost his marbles.
  6. Ich verstehe nur Bahnhof: If directly translated it means to only understand train station, but the English equivalent is that is is all Greek to you.
  7. Hier spielt die Musik: On a literal level it means that this is where the music is playing, yet we say that this is where the action is.
  8. Die Kirche im Dorf lassen: The direct translation is to leave the church in the village, but the English idiom means not get carried away
  9. Schwein haben: Literally this means to have a pig, but the figurative meaning is to have a stroke of luck.
  10. Ins Gras beißen: The literal translation is to bite into the grass, but the English equivalent is to kick the bucket.
  11. den Hut nehmen müssen: If directly translated it means you must take the hat, but in English it means to have to pack one’s bags.

I hope that you will not be as confused by the secret language of Germans anymore as you have been before.

What other idioms do you feel are important? Feel free to share them with me.


P.S. If you liked this post and would like to be notified when I post new content, feel free to join my mailing list.

11 Must-Know German Idioms: Title Image

50 Replies to “11 German Idioms You Have to Know”

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