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German Idiomatic Expressions: Rund ums “Ohr”– All about the “ear” Posted by on Apr 16, 2012 in Language

In my last post I already began to talk about idioms – fixed phrases whose meaning cannot be inferred from the meanings of the individual words. This time I would like to focus on idioms that have to do with the ear because there are many useful German idioms, containing the ‘ear’, that will help you to become a more competent language user in almost no time at all.

It would be wise to learn as many German idioms as possible because idioms are a very important component of language. Indeed, most of interpersonal communication is idiomatic.





ganz Ohr sein to listen to sth./sb. With excitement and undivided attention to be all ears
Augen und Ohren offen halten to follow something attentively to keep one’s eyes and ears open
jemandem klingel die Ohren Folk belief: someone is talking about you behind your back Lit. someone’s ears are ringing
die Ohren auf Durchzug stellen That what is/was said remains unheard; it enters one ear and immediately exits the other; Durchzug = draught to go deaf
jemanden die Ohren voll jammern Coll. to bother someone with one’s worries or problems to harp on about one’s problems
jemanden die Ohren lang ziehen To reproach or rebuke sb. Lit. to stretch someone’s ears
auf taube Ohren stoßen To not achieve anything with one’s admonitions, suggestions, or concerns to fall on deaf ears
seinen Ohren nicht trauen To be completely by the heard To not believe one’s ears
auf seinen Ohren sitzen Coll. not listening Lit. to sit on one’s ears
sich auf’s Ohr hauen Coll. to get some sleep to hit the hay
jemanden eins hinter die Ohren geben to cuff sb.; to box sb.’s ear To give somebody a thick ear
ins Ohr gehen Very catchy/memorable to be catchy
jemanden in den Ohren liegen to badger sb. by permanent requesting, complaining, etc. to pester sb.
bis über beide Ohren verliebt sein to be totally in love to be head over ears (heels) in love
bis über beide Ohren in Arbeit stecken to have to do a lot of work to be fully immersed in work
jemanden etwas um die Ohren hauen to reproach/criticize sb. to beat sb. round the head with sth.
viel um die Ohren haben Coll. to be very busy to have a lot/enough on one’s plate
hinter die Ohren schreiben the demand to remember something be sure to remember sth.
Die Ohren steif halten to not to loose courage, endurance, etc. to keep a stiff upper lip
Das Fell über die Ohren ziehen to betray someone to milk the pigeon; to flay sb. alive
Dein Wort in Gottes Ohr! Someone’s wish may come true. From your lips to God’s ears. / Let’s hope so, by goodness!
die Nacht um die Ohren schlagen to stay up all night to pull an all-nighter
jemanden übers Ohr hauen to cheat sb. to get the better of sb. / to pull a fast one on sb.
es faustdick hinter den Ohren haben to be a sly to be a deep me / to be a sly old dog
einen Floh im Ohr haben Coll. to not to be in one’s right mind to have a bug in one’s ear / to have a bee in the bonnet


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About the Author:Sandra Rösner

Hello everybody! I studied English and American Studies, Communication Science, and Political Science at the University of Greifswald. Since I have been learning English as a second language myself for almost 20 years now I know how difficult it is to learn a language other than your native one. Thus, I am always willing to keep my explanations about German grammar comprehensible and short. Further, I am inclined to encourage you to speak German in every situation. Regards, Sandra


  1. Tânia Mello:

    OK, since with began with the EAR, go by parts and think of the face first: I am sure there are expressions with the nose, the mouth, the eyes, the hair, the chin, etc…

    This would make more sense, and would be easier for us to learn, buhlieeeeve me ! Gosh, you DO have a lot of work to do !!!

  2. John Morgan:

    Dear Sandra Rösner. Thank you for these explanations, and the clear manner in which they are shown. Just one point.”Die Ohren steif halten”. The explanation should be “to not to lose courage, and not “loose”. This is, believe you me, a common mistake by English people, also!!
    Well done,