Sprechen sie Deutsch? The best Deutsch to English phrases

In Living Abroad by Carly19 Comments

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Although I’ve been in Wien for over 18 months now, I’m slightly ashamed to report that my Deutsch levels are probably not where they should be. I can follow conversation in groups of friends just fine, but spitting out phrases in return I’m still a bit clunky and basic. However, in my efforts to continually learn more I’ve collected quite a few phrases that when translated into English are brilliantly adorable and fun.

This is by no means an extensive collection and its likely the sayings are quite regional to the groups of people I spend time with. So, apologies for the dominance of Tirolian and Pfalz-ian phrases – they are what I’m regularly surrounded by. If you’ve got some equally brilliant and amusing translations please feel free to share and add to my collection. These are a few select favourites of mine that I encourage you to integrate into your every day lingo….

  Ich glaube, mein Schwein pfeift!

Translates to: I think my pig is whistling!

Real intention: I think I’m going crazy!

pig is whistling


Alles hat ein Ende, nur die Wurst hat zwei

Translates to: Everything has an end, only the sausage has two

Real intention: A philosophical phrase, spoken when something sadly comes to an inevitable end



I have no idea what is happening here, but it is hilarious

Das ist großes Kino

Translates to: That’s real big cinema

Real intention: That’s really, really impressive/cool

Es ist gut Kirschen essen mit dir

Translates to: Its good cherry eating with you

Real intention: I’m thoroughly enjoying this conversation with you

 My sister and close friends enjoy some seriously good cherry eating at Christmas!

Das Leben ist kein Zuckerlecken

Translates to: Life is not a sugar licking

Real intention: Life isn’t always easy

Choccie Cupcakes

  Sadly life is not always cupcake…

Geh dahin, wo der Pfeffer wächst

Translates to: Go where the pepper grows

Real intention: Kindly, er, rack off!!

To round out, these are three of my favourite sayings, guaranteed to always make me giggle because I adore them so much!

Du alte Wursthaut

Translates to: You old sausage skin

Real intention: Ah, you reliable old friend of mine. This became a catch-cry of our family over Christmas once the English speakers found out the literal translation, so much so that nearly every sentence was being finished with ‘You old sausage skin!’ and a hearty pat on the back.

 Du bist der Deckel zu meinem Topf

Tanslates to: You’re the lid to my pot

Real intention: You’re my perfect match. A very sweet phrase to use when describing your partner…..slightly cheesy but completely adorable! Who knew Deutsch could be so cute??

The lid to my pot

The lid to my pot – who will no doubt hate that I shared this ridiculous photo!

Du frech Dachs!

Translates to: You cheeky badger!

Real intention: You cheeky little so-and-so. This is now a popular phrase in our household for any number of crimes, whether it’s stealing the last piece of chocolate or ‘forgetting’ to put your shoes in the cupboard. Incredibly useful in most domestic scenarios.

Badger cam
Evidence of actual badgers stealing chocolate – the threat is real.

One of the best things that all these phrases have taught me is how the German language (with its Austrian dialects) is always referring back to nature and food – the two great loves of the Deutsch speaking world!!

I’m sure there’s many more regional and gorgeous Deutsch sayings out there and I can’t wait to learn more. I’d much rather spend a day discussing dialect phrases than an hour in Deutsch school learning grammar rules so please, feel free to share your favourite phrases in the comments below.


Sausage image credit:

photo credit: Mr Jaded via photopin cc

Cupcake image credit:

photo credit: FUNKYAH via photopin cc


  1. Eine alte Frau ist kein Schnellzug!I can’t do it any faster Bahnhof!I don’t understand anything! huh? Du bist ein Sparschwein!you are stingy Schupf di, drah di, schleich di!Scram! Du hast einen Vogel!You are crazy

    Date: Thu, 24 Apr 2014 21:43:09 +0000 To: jneuwelt@hotmail.com

  2. Very informative!! I also like ‘Kopfkino’ – when something makes you think of something else than what it was really intended, or just makes you picture something quite graphically 😛

  3. “Das Leben ist kein Ponyhof” means the same as “Das Leben ist kein Zuckerschlecken”, as does “Das Leben ist kein Wunschkonzert”.

    Ich stehe (irgendwie) auf dem Schlauch, literally I’m (somehow) standing on the hose. Meaning ” I don’t seem to understand, even though it seems like it should actually be quite easy”. In English we would probably just say “I don’t get it?!”.

  4. Ich verstehe nur Bahnhof. (literal: I only understand train station) meaning: I don’t understand.
    Du gehst mir auf den Wecker. (literal: You go/walk on my alarm clock) meaning: you’re really annoying.

  5. I love this post. I will be moving to Austria soon and I still need to start spending more time on my German. These are all going into my book.

  6. Ich verstehe nur spanisch – I only understand Spanish – Means: I do not understand.
    Das war höchste Eisenbahn – It was the highest train – Means: It was urgent.
    Das passt wie die Faust aufs Auge – It fits like the fist on the eye. – Means: it’s a perfect fit/match

  7. Mit voller Hose ist leicht stinken. – With full pants it’s easy to stink.
    If you’ve got the money, you can afford not to be humble.

  8. Ich glaub, ich träum’ mit dir! – I think I dream with you! – You don’t really mean what you just said/did.
    Hau dich über die Häuser! – Beat you over the houses! – Back off!

  9. Lovely, hilarious list!! I’ve heard another one with “Wurst” in it – Es geht um die Wurst – meaning “it’s now or never”? Oh, and I love how they say “ist mir Wurscht” (I don’t care/ it’s the same to me), hehe!
    My favourite Sprichswort is “Abwarten und Tee trinken” (to wait and drink tea; actual meaning “let’s wait and see”).

  10. Pingback: Sprechen sie Deutsch? The best Deutsch to English phrases | schlaflosinwien

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