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Idiomatische Redewendungen – Idiomatic expressions Posted by on Jan 31, 2011 in Culture, Current Events, Language, People, Traditions

Language is not always logical. This is generally true for idiomatische Redewendungen (idiomatic expressions). Idioms are words or phrases that do not have literal meanings but figurative meanings. I would like to post a series on German idioms [from time to time] in order to enhance your linguistic competence. Enjoy! 🙂

an allen Ecken und Enden sparen – to cut corners
Mein Vater möchte sich ein neues Auto kaufen. Deswegen müssen wir an allen Ecken und Enden sparen.
My father wants to buy a new car. Therefore, we have to cut corners.
jmd. die Daumen drücken – to keep one’s fingers crossed
Ich drücke dir die Daumen für deine Prüfung.
I will keep my fingers crossed for your exam.
nur Bahnhof verstehen – It’s all Greek to me. / It’s all double Dutch to me. / It’s as clear as mud.
Ich bin nicht gut in Mathe. Ich verstehe immer nur Bahnhof.
I am not good at maths. It’s all Greek to me.
das A und O (alpha and omega) – the essential requirements, a must
Eine gute Ausbildung ist das A und O für eine erfolgreiche Karriere.
A good education is a must for a successful career.
alle Jubeljahre – once in a blue moon
Er ruft seine Mutter nur alle Jubeljahre an, denn er ist ein sehr beschäftigter Mann.
He calls his mother only once in a blue moon because he is a very busy man.
sich auf die Socken machen – to take to one’s heels
Es ist schon spät! Wir müssen uns auf die Socken machen.
It is getting late! We have to take to our heels.
die Nase in alles stecken – to have an oar in every man’s boat
Sie ist sehr neugierig, denn sie steckt ihre Nase in alles rein.
She is very curious because she has an oar in every man’s boat.
sich aus dem Staub machen – to clear off
Die Diebe haben sich nach dem Raub aus dem Staub gemacht.
The thief cleared off after the robbery.
in null Komma nichts – at the drop of a hat
Das Konzert war in null Komma nichts ausverkauft.
The concert was sold out at the drop of a hat.

To be continued …

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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. Michèle:

    > die Nase in alles stecken – to have an oar in every man’s boat

    In American English, this would be “to have his/her nose in everybody’s business”.

  2. Brigitte:

    I suggest to give also the literal meaning of the idiomatische Redewendungen, for learners it’s not only funny but often very interesting

  3. angela samson:

    Idioms are essential to make a language live!