German Language Blog

Sayings + Expressions 14 – Money II (+ Time) Posted by on Jun 12, 2017 in Culture, Language

Today, as promised, we will talk about money again. Making money is what you probably do on a Montag (Monday) anyway. But it is also Monday, the international day for mourning the end of the weekend. So, I thought, let’s take the bitter out of that bittersweet feeling, and include time in today’s post. Time and money! Does that go together? Let’s find out! Let’s start with the Sprichwort (saying)!

Zeit ist Geld

Time is money

Allegedly first stated by Benjamin Franklin in 1748, it is a ubiquitous saying, which I am not a huge fan of personally. In my opinion, yes, money is important, but we trade time for money. And we can’t actually buy time, even if we say that we can “buy time”. So time prevails in the end anyway. In the sense that this Sprichwort is meant to say that time is wertvoll (precious), I agree 100%!


So, in the meaning we all know this Sprichwort – that time is money, and should therefore not be wasted – its use is pretty straightforward. Used in business meetings around the world as an excuse to keep things short and snappy, used by people like you and me to motivate themselves to not waste their time and work instead (happy Monday, everybody!), used by parents and teachers to show kids how the world works… This Sprichwort finds application in almost any context. Example:

Ich freue mich sehr, sie heute hier begrüßen zu dürfen, und dass wir…

Ja ja ja, lassen sie die Formalitäten. Zeit ist Geld – kommen wir zur Sache!

I am very happy to welcome you all here, and that we…

Yeah yeah yeah, drop the formalities. Time is money – let’s get down to business!


On to the Ausdruck!


Zu unchristlicher Zeit aufstehen

Literally: To wake up at an unchristian time (to wake up very early)
To wake up at an ungodly hour

As if making us work was not enough, Mondays also make us wake up much earlier than in the weekend. It sucks when you could sleep in until 10 am every on Sunday that you have to get up at 6 am again the day after. In Germany, a time considered extremely early or late is an unchristliche Zeit (unchristian time). Well, what time would that be? Well, the origin of this expression might help us out here. In the early Middle Ages, days were divided in two blocks: 12 hours of daytime, which was from sunrise to sunset, and 12 hours of nighttime. Now, during the day, the normal Christian (back then, virtually everyone in the area that is now Germany was a Christian) did what a good Christian does: beten (pray) and arbeiten (work). At night, you would schlafen (sleep), and not do anything anymore. So in those 12 nightly hours from dusk till dawn, it was an unchristliche Zeit. Of course, the 12-hour halves change with the seasons, but you get the point!


Nowadays, this Ausdruck is just used when somebody thinks something happens at a very early or late time. Can be used formally and informally. Examples:

Um halb vier nachts geht das Telefon. Wer ruft denn zu solch einer unchristlichen Zeit an?

At half past three at night, the telephone rings. Who is calling at such an unchristian time?

Du kommst schon wieder zu einer unchristlichen Zeit nach Hause. Du solltest wirklich weniger Überstunden machen!

You come home again at an unchristian time. You really should do less overtime!

I wish you a wonderful Montag! Also, let me know in the comments below how you translate these two in your language and how you use them!

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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.


  1. JDD:

    Thank you for your (as always) interesting post. In English, when we have to start our day very early, we often refer to it as an “ungodly hour.”

  2. Ruth Misheloff:

    In English we say “at an UNGODLY [not unchristian] hour,” etc.

    • Sten:

      @Ruth Misheloff Right, I suppose that even has the same origin as the German expression. I wrote “unchristian” because that is the literal translation of it.

  3. Michael:

    “Unchristian” is equal to the English ‘ungodly’ hour. Any hour that is outside you normal waking hours. For example, someone calls at 1:00 am, you might say, “Who is calling at this ungodly hour?”

  4. Carlos R Barron:

    Sher gut information uber seit und geld, Excellent information Danke.
    Ich whone jetz in Anioch,Ca

  5. Sambhu Routh:

    Ich spreche wenig deutsch.Aber ich will mehr sprechen

  6. Sambhu Routh:

    Hilffen Sie mir bitte