German Language Blog

German Idioms 32: Rainy days! Posted by on Sep 30, 2021 in Culture, Idioms, Language, Vocabulary

Summer is done, it’s time for der Herbst (autumn/fall)! And what comes with this time of the year? Well, der Regen (rain), of course. So let’s look at a idioms again. Here’s a Sprichwort (n, saying) and a Ausdruck (m, expression) that are related to Regen!

For previous posts in the series on German Idioms, please follow this link.

Sich regen bringt Segen

Löwe Lion Dog Hund Sprichwort Idioms

A dog that sich regt, can achieve more than a lion that sich legt. (Photo by Zdeněk Macháček on Unsplash)

Literally: To bestir oneself brings blessing

Hard work pays off

(Do you know another or better translation? Let me know in the comments below!)

This Sprichwort means a simple thing: If you do things, you’ll get blessed. In other words, hard work pays off! However, in this case, Regen takes on a different meaning. When regen is a verb, it means “to stir” or “to bestir oneself”. The verb of Regen that means “to rain” is regnen. So just an n difference.

But there are other meanings for this Sprichwort, too. Since sich regen literally refers to movement, it is sometimes also interpreted to mean that exercising brings many benefits. In a similar way, it can also mean that dedication to a cause is important (working a lot on a cause will eventually lead to a desired effect).

Anyway, this pretty straightforward Sprichwort is very well-known and is used extensively, in any context and at any level of formality. So feel free to always use it!

The origin of this ubiquitous Sprichwort is a small Gedicht (n, poem)  by Friedrich Rückert from 1838: “Sich regen, / Bringt Segen. / Ein Hund, der sich regt, / Jagt mehr, als ein Löwe, der sich legt” (to bestir oneself, / brings blessing. / A dog, that bestirs itself / hunts more than a lion that lies down.)

Here’s an example:

Willst du Arzt werden, musst du dich anstrengen. Du musst dich einfach dransetzen! Sich regen bringt Segen.

(If you want to become a doctor, you have to make an effort. You just have to sit down for it! Hard work pays off.)

Sich regen bringt Segen! Nachdem die Mannschaft wochenlang jeden Tag trainiert hat, wurde sie Meister in der Liga.

(Hard work pays off! After the team had trained every day for weeks, they became the champion in the league.)

vom Regen in die Traufe kommen / geraten

Roof Traufe Idioms

Photo by Ibrahim Rifath on Unsplash

Literally: Come / get from rain into the eave

Out of the frying pan and into the fire

(Do you know another or better translation? Let me know in the comments below!)

This unfortunate Ausdruck is actually related to rain. It means that you are going from a bad situation into an even worse one. Imagine you’re standing in the rain, and you want to find shelter – only to find yourself standing underneath a Traufe (f, eave) where you get even more water falling onto your head. Or, in a figurative sense, you quit your job because of your terrible boss only to get a job that you hate even more. Then, you kommst vom Regen in die Traufe!

It’s not entirely clear where this Ausdruck comes from, but the theory is that it  comes from the Middle East and was introduced to Germany in the 17th century. The idea for this Ausdruck already existed earlier, however. Goethe already expressed this idea in the 16th century: “Er springt in den Teich, dem Regen zu entfliehen” (He jumps into the pond to avoid the rain).

Like the Sprichwort, this Ausdruck is very common and used all over the place!

Here’s an example:

Hättest du dein altes Auto lieber nicht verkauft! Dein neuer Volkswagen hat nur Probleme. Du kamst von der Regen in die Traufe!

(If only you hadn’t bought a new car! Your new Volkswagen only has problems. You went out of the frying pan into the fire!)

Have you heard of this Sprichwort and Ausdruck before? Let me know in the comments below!

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About the Author: Sten

Hi! I am Sten, both Dutch and German. For many years, I've written for the German and the Dutch blogs with a passion for everything related to language and culture. It's fascinating to reflect on my own culture, and in the process allow our readers to learn more about it! Besides blogging, I am a German-Dutch-English translator, animator and filmmaker.