German Language Blog

German Phrases About Beginnings & Endings Posted by on Aug 14, 2019 in Language

Guten Tag! It’s nearing the end of Sommer (summer). September and Herbst (autumn/fall) represent new beginnings and the end of an era in several ways: The start of a new term at Schule (school) or Universität (university), the end of summer and the changing of the seasons as the leaves start to fall. This year, September represents a new Anfang (beginning) for me as I start something new, and a few things in my life come to an Ende (end). I felt inspired to share some German proverbs and general sayings around the subject of beginnings, endings, looking to the future, and letting go of things that have outstayed their welcome or just don’t feel right anymore. I hope you enjoy learning these sayings and can apply them to your own life, too. Here is to your Erfolg (success) and Freude (happiness)!

Wer rastet, der rostet

Literally: Who rests, rusts
Meaning: If you want to evolve, you cannot stay in the same place, literally or figuratively, for your entire life.

image via pixabay

Aller Anfang ist schwer

Literally: Every beginning is difficult
Meaning: When you start something new, it will be tough. Stick it out. It will get easier.

Alles hat ein Ende, nur die Wurst hat zwei

Literally: Everything has an end. Only the sausage has two.
Meaning: This is a playful little proverb that simply means that everything eventually comes to an end. The play on words comes from the use of ‘ein Ende’, which translates to ‘one end’ as well as ‘an end’. So, everything has ‘one end’ – but a sausage has two!

Was mich nicht umbringt, macht mich stärker

Literally: What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger
Meaning: However bad something is, it will teach you a valuable life lesson. Fun fact: It was German philosopher Nietzsche who coined this phrase!

Klappe zu, Affe tot

Literally: Lid/mouth shut, monkey dead
Meaning: That’s the end/end of story/end of discussion.
Note: The usual meaning of Klappe is lid. However, it is an informal way of saying mouth, too. Similar to the English: Shut your trap (shut your mouth).

Morgenstund hat Gold im Mund

Literally: Morning hour has gold in the mouth
Meaning: The early bird catches the worm. Get up early to get ahead!

image via pixabay

Bedenke das Ende

Literally: Think of the end
Meaning: Think of the consequences of your actions. This could be a positive or a negative motivator – for example, think of how good your life will be if you take action!

Berühre nicht alte Wunden

Literally: Don’t touch old wounds
Meaning: If you walked away from something that wasn’t serving you, don’t go back to it! You are better off without it.

Besser spät als nie

Literally: Better late than never
Meaning: It is never too late to chase your dreams!

Dem Mutigen gehört die Welt

Literally: The world belongs to the brave
Meaning: If you are brave, you can do anything. Take the leap and you will be rewarded.

Stochere nicht im Bienenstock

Literally: Don’t poke around in the beehive
Meaning: Don’t create a situation where there isn’t one. Sometimes it’s best to walk away and let things be. Like the English ‘let sleeping dogs lie’.

image via pixabay

Ende gut, alles gut

Literally: Ending good, all good
Meaning: All is well that ends well.

Man muss das Eisen schmieden solange es heiß ist

Literally: You need to strike the iron while it’s hot
Meaning: Take your chance while you have it!

Besser ein Ende mit Schmerzen als Schmerzen ohne Ende

Literally: Better an ending with pain than pain without end
Meaning: The short-term pain that comes with ending something is better than not ending it and enduring pain for a lifetime

Alles neu macht der Mai

Literally: Everything new makes the May
Meaning: You can start again. No matter what you’ve gone through, in May the flowers will bloom anew.

image via pixabay

Rom ist auch nicht an einem Tag erbaut worden

Literally: Rome was also not built in a day
Meaning: Be patient when you start something new. Good things take time.

Schnee von gestern

Literally: Snow from yesterday
Meaning: If something is ‘Schnee von Gestern’ it means it’s old news and/or doesn’t carry the same weight that it did before.

image via pixabay

Vocabulary from the first paragraph with articles:

der Sommer – summer

der Herbst – autumn

die Schule – school

die Universität – university

der Anfang – beginning

das Ende – end

der Erfolg – success

die Freude – happiness

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Keep learning German with us!

Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Try it Free Find it at your Library
Share this:
Pin it

About the Author: Constanze

Servus! I'm Constanze and I live in the UK. I'm half English and half German, and have been writing about German language and culture on this blog since 2014. I am also a fitness instructor & personal trainer.


  1. Adam:

    Very enjoyable post. I wish you success in your new beginning, whatever that may be.

    • Constanze:

      @Adam Thank you very much, Adam! And I’m glad you enjoyed the post!