Hilarious German Proverbs: Part III

“Loose lips sink ships.” — Image Credit: Fx6Ex6 (https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeanyunjean/) — Subject to CC 2.0 License.

You know these lists of German proverbs I’ve been publishing lately? Well, this here is another one: It contains wacky expressions originating from Germany and other parts of the German-speaking world as well.

And as I mentioned before: German people rock. They’re hilarious, in their own dismal, chronically pessimistic sort of way. This is particularly evident in their age-old expressions and proverbs, many of which — while insightful — are about as uplifting as a Cormac McCarthy novel.

What follows is another list of my favorite German proverbs, which I have translated literally — exactly the way they sound to my American ears — followed by the original German expression:

“Only children and drunks tell the truth.”

German: “Kinder und Betrunkene sagen immer die Wahrheit.”
English equivalent: “Honest people are hard to find.”
My interpretation: “Always trust a drunken toddler.”

“God save me from someone who has read only one book.”

German: “Gott bewahre mich vor jemand, der nur ein Büchlein gelesen hat.”
English equivalent: “Fear the man of one book.”
My interpretation: “If Twilight is your favorite book, we cannot be friends.”

“Shut your mouth, so a mosquito does not fly inside.”

German: “Halt’s Maul, so fliegt dir keine Mücke hinein.”
English equivalent: “A closed mouth catches no flies.”
My interpretation: “How ’bout a warm glass of shut the hell up?”

“Hoping and waiting makes some people into morons.”

German: “Hoffen und harren macht manchen zum Narren.”
English equivalent: “Do not pin all your hopes on something you may not attain.”
My interpretation: “Grow a pair and actually do something. Jesus.”

“More people drown in the cup than in the sea.”

German: “Im Becher ersaufen mehr als im Meer.”
English equivalent: “Wine has drowned more than the sea.”
My interpretation: “Hold your liquor, pussy.”

“Close the coffin lid. The monkey is dead.”

German: “Klappe zu, Affe tot.”
English equivalent: “It’s over. End of story.”
My interpretation: “Move along, Jane Goodall.”

“In the house of the hanged, do not talk about rope.”

German: “Im Hause des Gehängten rede nicht vom Strick.”
English equivalent: “Name not a rope in the house of one who has been hanged.”
My interpretation: “If you’re into breath play, always use a spotter.”

“The nearer the bone, the sweeter the meat.”

German: “Je näher dem Bein, desto süßer das Fleisch.”
English equivalent: “The sweetest flesh is near the bones.”
My interpretation: “Go for the jugular.”

“The dumbest farmers harvest the biggest potatoes.”

German: “Die dümmsten Bauern ernten die dicksten Kartoffeln.’’
English equivalent: “Stupid people often win.”
My interpretation: “Steal shit from the handicapped.”

“Small animals make poop too.”

German: “Kleinvieh macht auch Mist.”
English equivalent: “Small things also add up to big things.”
My interpretation: “Do not underestimate the power of my tiny anus.”

Do you know any old German proverbs? Let us know in the comments section below!

15 thoughts

  1. # Kräht der Bauer früh vom Mist, hat der Hahn sich wohl verpisst.
    # Stirbt der Knecht bereits im Mai, wird ein Fremdenzimmer frei.
    # Wenn der Ochs’ wie Clooney lächelt, stöhnt die Magd, die Bäurin hechelt.


  2. I don’t know if it’s a proverb, exactly, but I had a woman tell me yesterday that when it’s sunny outside it means that the angels are flying.


  3. 1. Wenn der Hund nicht geschissen haette haette er den Hasen gekriegt.
    2. Was man nicht im Kopf hat, hat man in den Beinen.
    3. Wer zuletzt lacht, lacht am Besten.
    4. Trau, schau, wem?
    5. Wie man in den Wald hineinruft, so schallt es heraus.
    6. Wie der Herr, so’s G’scherr.
    7. Vom Wiegen wird die Sau nicht fett.


  4. Don’t know if you already know some of them:

    “Abwarten und tee trinken” If something takes too long you could drink a tea in that time or a coffee or both… ;)

    “Alter schuetzt vor Torheit nicht.” Being old doesn’t help to be no fool.

    “Lieber ein Ende mit Schrecken als ein Schrecken ohne Ende!” An ending with horror is better than horror without ending.

    “Lachen ist die beste Medizin” Laughing is the best medicine.

    “Neid ist die ehrlichste Form der Anerkennung” Envy is the sincerest form of recognition. There’s also the version with highest (hoechste)

    “Nichts wird so heiß gegessen, wie es gekocht wird.” or “Man soll den Tag nicht vor dem Abend loben” Nothing is eaten as hot as it is cooked. Don’t praise the day before the eve.

    “Pack schlaegt sich, Pack vertraegt sich.” Scumbags fight and get along (well)

    “Passt wie die Faust auf’s Auge.” Fits like the fist on the eye xD ironically it can mean that something fits really well or the exact opposite.

    “Pech in der Liebe, Glueck im Spiel.” bad luck in love, luck in games.

    “Pessimisten sind Optimisten mit mehr Erfahrung” Pessimists are optimists with more experience.

    That’s the most used ones, that come to my mind in german.


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