Hilarious German Proverbs: Part VII

“I did not attend his funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.” — Mark Twain (Image Credit: bradleypjohnson [https://www.flickr.com/photos/bradleypjohnson/] Subject to CC 2.0 License.)
Oh yes. It’s time for another list of funny proverbs and expressions from Germany.

Most of these sayings come straight from Germany, but some are from other European countries with a German-speaking populace: Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark, Hungary, Poland, France and Italy, to name, well, basically all of them.

As usual, I gotta start out by saying German people are awesome. I love their dark, soul-crushingly bleak attitude toward life. It cracks me up. And, as one might expect, their language is riddled with wise and insightful expressions — most of which do a wonderful job of communicating said attitude with the most vividly morbid imagery possible. And when translated directly into English? Priceless.

What follows is yet 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:

“I believe I was kissed by a moose.”

German: “Ich glaub’ mich küsst ein Elch.”
English equivalent: “No way! I don’t believe it!”
My interpretation: “Give the German a Xanax.”

“No one is irreplaceable.”

German: “Niemand ist unersetzlich.”
English equivalent: “No man is indispensable.”
My interpretation: “I could fire you so hard right now…”

“Don’t talk operas.”

German: “Quatsch keine Opern.”
English equivalent: “Less is more when speaking,” or, “Convey meaning in as few words as possible.”
My interpretation: “Cut to the chase, Captain Talksalot.”

“To give advice is not coercion.”

German: “Raten ist nicht zwingen.”
English equivalent: “Counsel is no command.”
My interpretation: “It was just a suggestion, bro, god damn…”

“Shame on him who thinks badly of it.”

German: “Schande dem, der schlecht davon denkt.”
English equivalent: “Shame upon he who assumes the worst in others.”
My interpretation: “Not everyone is an asshole just because you are.”

“Get the cow off the ice!”

German: “Hol die Kuh vom Eis!”
English equivalent: “Prevent (or avoid) dangerous situations before they occur.”
My interpretation: “Shit. Bessy jumped the fence again.”

“Quick judgement has regret for sale.”

German: “Schnell Urteil hat Reue feil.”
English equivalent: “Hasty judgment begets remorse.”
My interpretation: “We, the jury, find the defendant guilty as shit after thinking about it for like 5 seconds.”

“Pranksters must be caught with pranksters.”

German: “Schälke muss man mit Schälken fangen.”
English equivalent: “Set a thief to catch a thief.”
My interpretation: “Think like the Joker, Batman.”

“Beauty is what beauty leaves behind.”

German: “Schön ist, was schön lässt.”
English equivalent: “People should be valued for their good deeds, not their good looks.”
My interpretation: “God damn you’re ugly. Sure are nice though!”

“Shoemaker, stay with your shoe molds.”

German: “Schuster, bleib bei deinen Leisten.”
English equivalent: “Don’t talk about things you don’t know anything about,” or “Stick to what you know.”
My interpretation: “Probably shouldn’t marital advice from a hooker.”

Do YOU know any funny German sayings or proverbs? Some weird little Deutsch idioms perhaps? We’d love to see ’em in the comments section!

Thank you for reading and have an awesome day!



14 thoughts

  1. Hallo, found some mistakes, Jace your german wife proof read your blog first. …hint hint, deinem Leisten…


  2. I like your interpretations so much more than German original sentences :) When I first moved to Germany last year, I lived in Bayern and I was like it this even German. For the first two months I was just nodding and thinking wtf :)


  3. German saying: du gehst mir auf den Wecker. Means you are annoying. Translates: you are stepping on my alarm clock, hmmm


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