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Sayings + Expressions 8: The Fall and The Cosmetics Posted by on Sep 15, 2014 in Culture, Language

Liebe Leser!

First of all, sorry for the delay, but here we are again… The next sayings + expressions! This time, we are concerned with falling, and… cosmetics? The saying, please!

Hochmut kommt vor dem Fall

Pride/Haughtiness goes before a fall

The meaning of this saying is quite clear, and originates in the Bibel (Bible), in Sprüche (Proverbs) 16,18: “Wer zugrunde gehen soll, der wird zuvor stolz; und Hochmut kommt vor dem Fall” (Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall). When somebody is proud, in an arrogant sense, it will backfire – the person will fall (or: fail).


Its use is still widespread, and is used when appropriate. There are not so many every day situations where it might fit, but still… Example!

Alex war sich sehr sicher, dass sie den Arbeitsplatz bekommen würde. Schließlich hatte sie schon so viel Erfahrung gemacht! Aber als sie abgewiesen wurde wegen ‘mangelhafter Erfahrung’, war sie am Boden zerstört. Hochmut kommt vor dem Fall!

Alex was so sure that she would get the job. After all, she has gained so much experience already! But when she was rejected because of ‘insufficient experience’, she was devastated. Pride goes before a fall!



Das kannst du dir abschminken!

Das kannst du dir abschminken! (Image by penjelly at Flickr.com under CC BY-ND 2.0)

Forget it! (you can remove your make-up!)

This seemingly strange expression finds its origin in long past times, in the Abendland (Occident). Plato rethought the expression – and many artists and thinkers after him – by seeing the world as a stage, in which we all play a part. The most important attribute for an actor is his make-up, which he takes off when he leaves the stage. And this expression is concerned with this role play: Das kannst du dir abschminken – you will not play that role, forget it! So take off your make-up, get off the stage, and do something else! It is an angry response, possibly out of irritation for the haughtiness of the person – and this expression could create the fall that comes after pride!


Das kannst du dir abschminken is a pretty aggressive way to say no to somebody. It may serve as a hyperbole, as you can definitely emphasize your negative response with this expression. Example:

Mama, darf ich morgen Abend ausgehen?

– Du warst gestern schon weg. Denke doch an deine Schularbeiten! Also, das kannst du dir abschminken!

Mom, can I go out tomorrow night?

– You were already gone yesterday. Think about your homework! So, forget it!


What are the equivalents of these two in your language? Do you use these (or similar expressions) a lot?



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About the Author:Sten

Hi! I am Sten, and I am half Dutch and half German. I was on exchange in the United States, and I really enjoyed that year! So in that sense, I kind of have three nationalities... I love all of them!


  1. schöne sprüche für lehrer:

    I always spent my half an hour to read this web
    site’s content every day along with a mug of coffee.

  2. Denise:

    In England we say “Pride comes before a fall”. I was brought up with that ringing in my ears. I think I must have been a bit full of myself growing up!

  3. Aby:

    I like to concentrate on idioms in every language I learn.
    The explanation is just wonderful.
    Keep it up!