75 (fünfundsiebzig) kick-ass German words/phrases 🇩🇪 | Post 2: Idioms and other figurative expressions 💁 [pt. 1 of 2]

Hallo and welcome to my second post in the series I’m currently working on, 75 (fünfundsiebzig) kick-ass German words/phrases! Whilst this series is designed more for intermediate German speakers, I think that anyone could appreciate the special-ness of German, even with less background knowledge of the language, which is why I’ve decided to do several posts and not just one. As I said in my previous post, though, I’d love to do a series on German for beginners, if that’s what people would like, so let me know if you would! 😊

Today I thought I’d talk to y’all about figurative phrases, because I personally find them pretty amusing and what’s more, they’re a great way of sounding like a native speaker! So, let’s get started! 💪🇩🇪


I’ve put the idioms themselves, followed by their English equivalents and my attempts to translate them as literally as possible from German [in brackets like this]. I’ve tried to categorise them as best I could…

Somewhat philosophical…

  1. kein Blatt vor den Mund nehmen – to not mince one’s words [to not hold a sheet in front of one’s mouth]
  2. sich in seiner Haut nicht wohl fühlen – to feel ill at ease [to not feel at well in one’s skin]
  3. Himmel und Hölle in Bewegung setzen – to move Heaven and Earth [to move heaven and hell]
  4. wie sonst immer – like it does/as always [like usually; always]
  5. die Kirche im Dorf lassen – to not get carried away [to leave the church in the village]
  6. man soll den Tag nicht vor dem Abend loben – don’t count your chickens before they hatch [one shouldn’t praise the day before the evening]
  7. ein wunder Punkt – a sore point [a wonder point]
  8. Schnee von gestern – water under the bridge [snow from yesterday]
  9. Tatsachen in Augen sehen – to face the facts [to look facts in the eye]
  10. ein Ziel im Auge behalten – to keep an aim in mind [to keep a goal in sight]


Things most of us do/think/say at some point 😜

11. seine Arbeit auf die leichte Schulter nehmen – to not take one’s work seriously enough [to take one’s work on the light shoulder]

12. sich zum Affen machen – to make a fool of oneself [to become a monkey]

13. bei etwas (+ dative) ein Auge zudrücken – to turn a blind eye to something [to close an eye to something]

14. kein Auge zumachen – to not sleep a wink [to not close an eye]

15. auf die schiefe Bahn geraten – to go off the rails [to get on the crooked path]

16. ich verstehe nur Bahnhof – it’s all Greek to me [I only understand railway station]

17. mir reißt die Geduld – my patience is wearing thin [the patience is tearing up for me]

18. sich Hals über Kopf in jemanden verlieben – to fall head over heels in love with someone [to fall knock over head in love with someone]

19. klar wie Kloßbrühe – crystal clear

20. sich einen Korb holen – to get the push [to fetch oneself a cage]

21. viel Lärm um nichts – to storm in a teacup [a lot of noise about nothing]

22. in die Luft gehen – to fly off the handle, lose one’s rag [to go into the air]

23. jemandem ein Ohr abkauen – to talk someone’s ear off

24. ich bin sauer – I am angry [I am sour]

25. Tomaten auf den Augen haben – to be oblivious to what’s going on around you [to have tomatoes on your eyes]

26. viel Wind um etwas machen – to make a fuss about something [to make a lot of wind about something]

27. eine Extrawurst verlangen – to ask for special treatment/a special favour [to long for an extra sausage]


Slaying it!!

28. zwei Fliege mit einer Klappe schlagen – to kill two birds with one stone [to hit two flies in one clap]

29. haargenau – exact [hair exact]

30. nagelneu – brand-new [nail new]

31. den Nagel auf den Kopf treffen – to hit the nail on the head

32. in die Pfanne hauen – to defeat utterly [to clobber in the pan]

33. Schwein haben – to have a stroke to luck [to have pigs]

34. die Sache auf die Spitze treiben – to bring matters to a head [to drive matters on the spitzes]

35. mit der Tür ins Haus fallen – to get straight to the point [to fall into the house with the door]

36. weggehen wie warme Semmeln – to go/sell like hotcakes [to go away like warm bread rolls]

37. etwas wie seine Westentasche kennen – to know something like the back of one’s hand [to know something like one’s waistcoat pocket]


Idiomatic Insults

Whilst I try my best to be a nice human and not insult people (even people whom I don’t really like), these phrases are nonetheless hilarious, so I thought they’d be worth sharing!  😂

38. dumm wie Bohnenstroh – as thick as a brick/as thick as two short planks [as dumb as bean straw]

39. halte die Klappe – shut up [hold the flap]

40. hau ab – get lost [chop off]

41. halt deinen Mund – (also) shut up [hold your mouth]

42. leck mich – screw off [lick me]

43. schleich dich – (also) get lost [steal yourself] (but a little less aggressive than hau ab)


Now, we’ve got to 43 and I already feel as though this post is getting a little long 😅 so what I’m going to do is I’ll post the second half of this post, containing the remaining 32 phrases, on Friday – I hope that’s okay with you, I just don’t want this to be too overwhelming! 🙈 Hopefully I’ve given plenty to think about so far, anyways!

Bye for now then!

Sarah xx


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