"Ich verstehe nur Bahnhof!"
This is exactly how some people feel when they hear German native speakers use idioms. Wonder what it means? Well, literally it signifies: "I can only understand train station.” But in English, we would say: "It's all Greek to me."
When your German is solid enough, it's time to take your language skills to the next level and learn some funny and new idioms. By learning some interesting and typical German expressions you can benefit big time, - not only will you improve your comprehension skills, sound like a proficient speaker but it will also give you an insight into the German culture.
So here are the most common German idioms that you can start using now :) Enjoy!
1. Da kannst du Gift drauf nehmen!
Literally: You can take poison on that.
English equivalent: You can bet your life on that!
2. Hier steppt der Bär!
Literally: The bear dances here.
English Equivalent: It is a good party.
(Next time you're out with your friends, you can surprise them with this expression :)
3. Du hast Tomaten auf den Augen.
Literally: You have tomatoes on your eyes.
English Equivalent: to be oblivious to what is going around you.
(You might wanna say that to your friend, when she is in love with someone who doesn't really treat her the way he should.)
4. Das geht weg wie warme Semmeln!
Literally: It goes go like warm rolls!
English equivalent: to go or sell like hot cakes
5. Musst du immer deinen Senf dazugeben?
Literally: Do you always have to add your mustard?
English equivalent: to put their two cents in
(Do you know someone who always comments on everything!?)
6. Ich drücke dir die Daumen!
Literally: I squeeze my thumbs for you.
English equivalent: to keep one’s fingers crossed for someone
(Say that the next time your friend needs some support.)
7. jdm. ein Ohr abkauen
Literally: to chew someone’s ear off
English equivalent: to talk someone’s ear off
8. Das ist doch klar wie Kloßbrühe!
Literally: That is clear as dumpling broth.
English equivalent: it's crystal clear
9. Sie ist dumm wie Brot.
Literally: She is as dumb as a bread.
English equivalent: as thick as a brick
10. Lass mal schön Kirche im Dorf!
Literally: Let's leave the church in the village.
English equivalent: to not get carried away
11. Schwein gehabt!
Literally: having a pig
English equivalent: to have a stroke of luck
(In many cultures, pigs serve their main purpose on dinner plates. In Germany they do too - but, oddly enough, they also happen to be lucky.)
12. Red jetzt nicht um den heißen Brei herum!
Literally: Don't talk around the hot porridge now.
English equivalent: to beat around the bush
13. Schönen Feierabend!
Literally: Beautiful celebration night!
English equivalent: Have a nice evening! (after work)
If your colleagues wish you a "schönen Feierabend" after a day in the office, they're hoping you have a pleasurable post-work evening.
14. Mach dich nicht zum Affen!
Literally: Don't make an ape of yourself.
English equivalent: to make a fool of oneself
15. Sie verlangt immer eine Extrawurst!
Literally: She always asks for an extra sausage.
English Equivalent: to ask for special treatment
16. Damit habe ich zwei Fliegen mit einer Klappe geschlagen.
Literally: With that I killed two flies with one swat.
English equivalent: to kill two birds with one stone
17. Himmel und Hölle in Bewegung setzen
Literally: put heaven and hell in motion
English equivalent: to move heaven and earth
18. Du hast nicht alle Tassen im Schrank!
Literally: You do not have all cups in cupboard
English equivalent: to not have all one's marbles
19. Das Leben ist kein Ponyhof!
Literally: life is not a pony farm
English equivalent: Life is not all guns and roses.
20. Ich hab Nase voll!
Literally: I have the nose full.
English equivalent: to be sick and tired of something
Alright that was a short introduction in some of the most common and funniest German idioms. There are still a lot more waiting for you :)
Thanks for reading!