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German Idioms – Part 1

German idioms are an important part of everyday German. They come up all the time in both written and spoken German. Because idioms don’t always make sense literally, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the meaning and usage of each idiom. That may seem like a lot of work, but learning idioms is fun, especially when you compare German idioms to the idioms in your own language.

Das ist ein Katzensprung

Literally: That’s a cat’s jump
English equivalent: It’s a stone’s throw away

Eine Extrawurst haben

Literally: to ask for an extra sausage
English equivalent: to ask for special treatment

Die Daumen drücken

Literally: to press the thumbs
English equivalent: to keep your fingers crossed

Himmel und Hölle in Bewegung setzen

Literally: to put heaven and hell in motion
English equivalent: to do whatever it takes to reach the goal

Ich verstehe nur Bahnhof

Literally: I only understand “train station.”
English equivalent: It’s all Greek to me

Wie seine Westentasche kennen

Literally: to know something like one’s waistcoat pocket
English equivalent: to know something like the back of one’s hand

Da liegt der Hund begraben

Literally: That’s where the dog is buried
English equivalent: That’s the heart of the matter

Du nimmst mich auf den Arm!

Literally: You’re taking me on your arm!
English equivalent: You’re pulling my leg!

Zwei Fliegen mit einer Klappe schlagen

Literally: to kill two flies with one swat
English equivalent: to kill two birds with one stone

Ein Ohr abkauen

Literally: to chew someone’s ear off
English equivalent: to talk someone’s ear off

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