Terrific expressions to help you impress your German friends: part 2


I have come back to you with another set of German idiomatic expressions that will help you come a step closer to speaking German fluently and teach you the colloquial way of communication. If I may express myself in the spirit of idioms: they will knock your socks off.  

Ich glaube ich spinne  

The equivalent expression to this idiom that can be found in the English language is ‘I think I am going crazy.’ When German learners stumble upon it, they translate it as ‘I think I spider.’ Well, they are partially wrong. Rule number one you should embed in your brain is that in the German language nouns always start with a capital letter. In ‘Ich glaube ich spinne many say that the word spinne does not refer to a spider (which is written as Spinne) at all, but rather to the verb spinnen’ with means to spin, while colloquially is also given the meaning to go bonkers.  

Das ist nicht mein Bier  

The phrase ‘this is not my beer’ does not stick to its denotative meaning. It has evolved into an idiomatic expression with the definition that something is none of your business or responsibility. In some situations, it can also be interpreted as not being your taste, in which case the closest English idiom would be ‘It’s not my cup of tea.’  

“I lost my car keys. How do I get home?” – “That is not my beer.” 

You are also given the freedom to reformulate it and say ‘Das ist dein Bier,’ meaning, it’s your problem, concern, etc.  

Mal den Teufel nicht an die Wand  

Whatever you do, do not draw the devil on the wall otherwise, bad things will happen. This expression is used with the intention of indicating that someone is being pessimistic and always expects the worst. The most similar English idiom would be ‘don’t meet trouble halfway’ which means to not get worried.  

Bock haben  

Newcomers to the language can be quite confused with this expression, as Bock has multiple meanings. In this case, nevertheless, it refers to the male goat, also called Ziegenbock. The origin of this word, however, goes back to the Rotwelsch word bokh’ which means hunger. Therefore, this expression can be translated as ‘having hunger for something,’ or metaphorically speaking, ‘to want to do something.’ ‘Bock zu haben is identical in meaning with ‘Lust zu habe which refers to ‘feel like doing something/to be in the mood for something.’ The difference is that the former is a more colloquial version of the latter.  

Tomaten auf den Augen haben  

When you are figuratively blind, Germans would say that you have tomatoes on your eyes. In other words, it means someone refuses to see the obvious or is completely unaware of what is happening around them. 

Check out the first part here.


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