You didn’t think I was done with the German expressions, did you? There is much more of them than you’d think. The following five I find particularly interesting, so I couldn’t hold the urge not to share them with someone.
Etwas auf die lange Bank schieben
We’ll start with an expression that refers to pretty much everyone. Have you ever found yourself in a situation trying to come up with every excuse possible just to get out of doing something? This is exactly what Germans want to say with this idiom: PROCRASTINATION.
However, if you translate this idiom word-by-word, you’ll get ‘to push something on the long bench’ which doesn’t make much sense. Here is the explanation of the origin. A judge can sometimes be accompanied by lay judges, who assist them in solving the case. It is believed that in the past, these lay members were responsible for interrogating the claimants and defendants, which made trials last a very long time. Moreover, they also used to sit together on a very long bench.
Wie eine Scheibe abschneiden
When someone is particularly good at doing something, then surely everyone should follow their steps. In Germany, people tend to say to cut off a piece from that person. Now don’t take this literally of course. No one is chopping nobody. The perfect English interpretation would be to take someone as an example, or even better, to take a leaf out of someone’s book.
Mit allen Wassern gewascht
Some people are washed with all waters, meaning they know every trick in the book. The expression is mostly used to describe cunning people who will use anything, especially scamming, to achieve their goals. Rumor has it that life at sea has served as an inspiration for this idiom. Sailors would sail the seven seas for many years and throughout their journeys, they would visit many countries and encounter different cultures. Thus, their knowledge of the world is believed to have been impeccable.
Lügen haben kurze Beine
Lies have short legs, Germans say. And they couldn’t be more right. What this idiom implies is the fact that one can never go far with lies. At some point, they will be revealed and the truth will come out. The best solution is always to be honest.
Da lacheln die Hühner
If you do or say something foolish, be aware that even the chickens are laughing at you. The expression derives from the fact that many regard chickens as not the brightest animals out there. Therefore, if the simple-minded chickens find what you do silly, then what you’ve done must have been that ridiculous.