What is an uncompetitive good

Talk: German proverbs

I added a section up the top explaining a way of referring to proverbs in German, as I found this a useful way of bringing such proverbs into an argument / essay / discussion. The formatting is a bit clumsy, however I tried to make it consistent with the rest. Also, the introductory statement is a bit obtuse - I was lacking inspiration, but someone else might have an inspired way to a choice, has a problem. "

"problem" is IMO not a stupid translation. I can't find an exact translation but if I translate "problem" back to german "Problem" I don't find it fitting. "Qual" could maybe translate to "great pain", but it is not restricted to physical pain which could sound strange, but to intellectual pain. Also note that instead of "a", "the" should be used. --Florian Pesth

I deleted the two English proverbs (English Proverb: "Heavy is the head that wears the crown" or "With great power comes great responsibility.") Cause their meaning differs clearly from the German one. I don't know a more fitting english proverb though. But better no translation than a wrong one I guess. (Explanation: The original is about the difficulties of choosing sth. And has nothing to do with responsibility or power or influence whatsoever)

My dictionary translates "qual" with "dolor" for am. Engl. "dolour" for brit. engl. so, going by this I would translate the proverb as follows: "Who has the choice, has the dolor." I don't know if dolor is a commonly used word in english but this is the closest translation for the word that I can think of. Kiddycat

"dolor" is definitely not a commonly used English word. It's rather archaic sounding and most people wouldn't even know what it means. Possible close matches would be something like "torture", "torment", "anguish", or "agony". But I almost think the best, certainly the most idiomatic, would be "worry": "He who has a choice has a worry". Though "He who has a choice has a torment" is not too bad. Another similar English proverb is "With great power comes great responsibility."
Bhugh 07:22, 22 December 2005 (UTC)

"Torment" is literally "torment". There's no exact equivalent I know of in English. It's similar to "spoiled for choice", referring to the difficulty one sometimes has choosing between two or more options. dean

First come, first served [edit]

  • First come first serve.

used to be:

    • Translation: "Who comes first grinds first."

Meaning: "First come, first served."

I changed it to

    • Translation: "Who comes first eats first."

since "mahlt" is 3rd person singular from "mahlen" which is an old word for "eating". It comes from the word "Mahl" which can be translated as dinner.

I'm not familiar with wikigroups or anything similar and I didn't bother to read the rules which I now, thinking about it, regret. I don't know if it was ok that I just changed it, but at least here is an explanation why I did it. If I wasn't supposed to change anything then please change it back.


"Who comes first eats first." makes much more sense in English than the previous version. About rules: Good wiki's and good societies, often make their rules very gradually, slowly, and carefully. I think that the best people remain very reserved in making or asserting any rules. About the only rules that I think universally apply to any good activity anywhere is: Be honest and fair, and try to be as helpful as you can while being so. We certainly welcome anyone who can perform translations in different languages. Though this is the English Wikiquote, and a primary aim is collecting English versions of famous statements, having the orignal statements that have been made in other languages, as well as good translations into English, is one of the goals that have been established here. Thank you for your contribution. ~ Kalki 12:42, 5 Jun 2004 (UTC)

As an English speaker, "first come, first served" is certainly the accepted equivalent proverb in my context. To me, "who comes first eats first" makes little metaphorical sense. Perhaps they should both be up there?

  • Ouch! "Grinding is an old word for eating" ouch ouch ouch. This is totally wrong. It has nothing to do with eating. Here is the story: in the old days the farmers carried their corn to the mill. And the Miller served the farmer fist where came at first in the morning. That's all. It's like "first in - first out" in logistics. 20:23, March 24, 2006 (UTC)

German language, difficult language. [Edit]

German language difficult language. Literally, "German language, hard language."

Really? Is that what Germans think of their own language?

Really? Hard as is hard to learn, or hard as in hard on the ears?

Certainly that gothic typeface (Fraktur?), Which looked as it one's pen was leaking, was very hard to read. Fortunately, Germany changed over to something more readable in WW2.

German language, so difficult, makes you swear. (combined German and English).

User: syd1435 03:30, 21 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Hard as is hard to learn. We Germans know that German is a difficult language.

My language is dutch and yes there are some difficult things in german but so there are in dutch and english. But that's part of the fun in learning other languages.

The only Germans I ever met who used this saying seriously, i.e. implying that they were smarter because they did not make grammar mistakes in German, were either some old folks (farmers) who never learned any foreign languages ​​or supreme idiots who didn't realize the limits of their own abilities in foreign languages. Perhaps the German who wrote, "We germans know that German is a difficult language" is one of the latter group. A German attempting to claim in incorrect English that German is "hard" is like the pot calling the kettle black.

When I do use this proverb "Deutsche Sprache ..." it is more to annoy other Germans who made an obvious mistake. It's usually not ment to be arrogant or self-righteous. -- 21:53, October 1, 2005 (UTC)

Yes. That's exactly it. It's commonly used to either excuse one's own mistakes or as a comment on a grammar mistake of someone else. Because it's true: It is a difficult language. There is a bestselling book ("The dative is death to the genitive") that deals with common mistakes ...

I think German is a beautiful language and not very difficult to learn. but the German prepositions are difficult. e.g. with, nach, von, zu, an etc. are always dative or for, through etc. are always accusative and some are dative or accusative. :(

I also know only the use in the context of a grammatical mistake made by oneself or by others. I would not be suprised if other languages ​​had equivalents. I could imagine that the perception of German as "hard" is because of a historical strong diversification by dialects and a comparatively late establishment of a specific language code, there are still many speakers today who prefer regional dialects with considerably deviant grammar. One might call it an adage rather than a proverb, and it is mostly used, highly ironically. By the way "hard on the ears" would be expressed as "harte Sprache", not "schwer" which means only "hard" as in difficult, cannot mean "harsh sound" or "hard object".

I know this thread is nine years old, but as a German I have to point out that in "German language, so heavy, makes you swear." 'heavy' is used as an adverb and should be 'heavy' and not 'heavy'. 10:45 PM, August 18, 2013 (UTC)

Personally, I've never heard this proverb being said to a foreigner. NEVER. This proverb is used among Germans to actually point out and make fun of another native speaker who did use incorrect grammar. So please, do not feel insulted as German students, nor do we want to say that German is the most difficult language to learn. The hardest thing about German are most likely the very randomly picked articles, as everything else somehow has not only a pretty constant rule, but also similarities in other languages. BUT and here comes the difference: unlike Italian, Spanish, French or other male / female-article languages, there are NO indications in German words as to which article has to be used, therefore even with the right grammatical rule used on the wrong article , native speakers will notice you as being a foreigner even after decades living in Germany or Austria. Sorry folks, German might be as hard to learn as any other language, but it definitely is harder to MASTER. - random girl from Austria (hopefully without English grammar mistakes or incorrect spelling)

Everything is fine. [Edit]

Using the Dutch proverb page as a template, the German proverb pages has been ordered in Alphabetic Order. This makes it much easier to find things, and looks under control at last.

"Everything's in order." This is the loose meaning in English.

Ashley W., German student for too many years in U.S.A.

User: syd1435 03:37, 21 Sep 2004 (UTC)

First come, first served. [Edit]

German proverb: First come, first served.

English: First come, first gains. (Ie. First gains an advantage).

English: First come, first grains. (Ie. First has grain / grains to eat).

Note: (Grain is "bulk" noun as well as singular noun.)

Question: is it a conicidence that in English, grain and gain are very similar words?

Question: What are the equivalent words in other languages? German, Dutch, Italian, etc.

  • First comes, first gains.
  • First comes, first grains.
  • First comes, first attains.
  • First comes, first serves,
  • First comes, first deserves?

User: syd1435 03:42, 21 Sep 2004 (UTC) grind = to grind: whoever comes first is the first to get it's grain grinded

The early bird catches the worm. - this is the best translation of it. Doubt (talk) 23:11, 19 September 2013 (UTC)

He who has a choice, has the doldrums. [Edit]

Kiddycat said 'My dictionary translates "qual" with "dolor" for am. Engl. "dolour" for brit. engl. so, going by this I would translate the proverb as follows: "Who has the choice, has the dolor." I don't know if dolor is a commonly used word in english but this is the closest translation for the word that I can think of. '

As a native born English speaker, "Dolor" is a new word to me. It does not appear in my smallish dictionary. Looking at this dictionary, similar words which may or may not be related, include "Doll" and "Doldrums".

Dolls and Doldrums are both lifeless, and go no where on their own, a bit like someone with a lot of choices but unable to make up their minds - they may have to be taken before they get anywhere. This lifelessness does partly fit the meaning Kittycat is after.

Perhaps you should have two versions:

He who has a choice, has the doldrums (like a sailing ship with no wind). He who has a choice, can get dumbfounded like a doll.

The meaning of this proverb is: He who can make a choice, can have aches to come to a decision (Qual = agony, pain, aches)

What might kiddycat native language be?

User: syd1435 04:04, 21 Sep 2004 (UTC)

If you have the choice, you are spoiled for choice. (I updated the headline to include the German version again) [The bigger the choice, the harder it is to choose. Or, literally transl .: Whoever has (the) choice has (the) torment.] Taken from: http://www.dict.cc/deutsch-englisch/Qual.html - random girl from Austria

••• Germanophile American I've seen a shorter form of the phrase a lot: die agony of choice. So: He was in an agony of indecision; he made an anguished choice. - If it's: You are spoiled for choice, then you might even say: You have the burden of choice; You're stuck with having to choose. My point here is that you don't have to translate Qual closely, since part of the reason it's used in the phrase is that it rhymes with choice. Many idioms (or soundbites) in many languages ​​go for rhyme or assonance, probably to enhance mnemonic value: no rhyme or reason; done deal; too pooped to pop; neither fish nor fowl; true blue etc.

- I definitely don't think doldrums is right for Qual, since it has more to do with depression, lethargy, etc. A sense translation, rather than a close dictionary translation is often better, i.e. true to the spirit of the original.
      • Anglo, Germano, Spano, Francophile here. When I first heard of this proverb, a lazy but effective rhyme immediately came to mind: "Who has the decision, has the affliction." Variations of this may sound punchier: "Whoever has the decision, has also the affliction." Shout out to any other Romance language speaker, you can replicate this translation into most of your native tongues: "Quien tiene la decision, tiene la afliccion," "Celui qui a la decision, a aussi l'affliction," etc, etc. (Pardon the missing accents, this damned anglo-keyboard you know.)

AND, for those insufferably persnickety ears that can't allow for the possibility of a decision being HAD (instead of taken or made), here's your version: "Whoever takes the decision, also takes the affliction." Yes: taking afflictions. Cuz both parts of the sentence must take the same verb. —This unsigned comment is by (talk • contribs) 16.43, 20 August 2019 (UTC).

Better a sparrow in hand than a pigeon on the roof.

I've moved Proverb: A bird in the hand because it makes more sense as an en: Wikiquote article title. A redirect remains from the German version. I've also changed the references here and in Finnish proverbs. - Jeff Q (talk) 08:03, 23 Apr 2005 (UTC)

The complete proverb is: "Better a sparrow in hand than a dove on the roof" -> translation: better a little bird in the hand than a big bird at the roof "-> it is better to have something little but safe than something big but very unsafe —The preceding unsigned comment was added by 2001: 638: 804: 20d8: 183: c419: 373f: de71 (talk • contribs) 11:18, 22 Mars 2013 (UTC)

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

The sparrow in hand is better than the pigeon on the roof.

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

from: http://www.dict.cc/deutsch-englisch/Spatz.html

- random girl from Austria

If you don't want to, you already have [edit]

  • If you don't want to, you already have.
    • Literal translation: Who don't want, has already.

I revised this entry by removing a recently added English "Ihave said over a million times im germanè I love Kyle !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!

Correctly: "If you don't want, you've already got it."
Literal translation: "Who does not want it, has it (or enough) already."
English proverb that is most similar: "Take it or leave it."

What about ... [edit]

(meaning: approx. "it's really enough, now".)
"Enough is enough." "That's the last straw!"from: http://www.dict.cc/?s=Now+schl%C3%A4gt%27s+ thirteen

  • "It's just day in the pot." hessian: "Ebe is but there in Dibbe"

(similar meaning)

Better an end to pain than pain without end [edit]

This translation is IMHO more comprehensive: "Rather a painful ending than endless pain."

Agreed. The translation in the article now is literal and technically correct but could be phrased better in English. Also, the proverb "Better a horrible end than horror without end." 3:50 am, April 8, 2006 (UTC)
No, Rather an End with Pain than Pain without End. Precedingly unsigned comment by 14:16, 30 October 2012 (UTC)

another proverb [edit]

God damn people limp, but hell they're running.

People limp to God but run to the devil.

OR: "That's the same in green" -> That's the same (thing) in green

Anyone else familiar with this one:

My Grandpa used it often, mostly in contempt for those (esp. Weathermen) who attempted to predict the future:

The old prophets are all dead and the young ones know nothing.

Translation: The old prophets are all dead and the young ones know nothing.

Equivalent: God only knows.



Every rain is followed by sunshine [edit]

Being kinky and placing the omnious translation right above everyone else's opinions:
"This too shall pass."
- random girl from Austria

The equivalent "every cloud has a silver lining" is not correct. These two proverbs are actually very different. The German proverb says that after a sad / pessimistic / negative / bad situation, THERE WILL BE a happy / optimistic / positive / good situation. It basically says that there are ups and downs, or, more precisely, downs and ups. One incident occurs after the other. The English "equivalent" (every cloud has a silver lining), which is widely used in the U.S., says that a bad situation / occurrence can also AT THE SAME TIME bring with it a good occurrence (the silver lining). Something which is perceived as bad (cloud) can be SIMULTANEOUSLY good (the silver lining). I think it goes without saying that these meanings are very different. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Yellow magic marker (talk • contribs) 10:41, 29 August 2006 (UTC)

This, unfortunately, points out a serious that these proverb articles have: nothing in them is sourced, so people feel free to add anything they wish, without getting outside reliable sources for the texts, the translations, or the (sometimes incredibly long) explanatory comments. If we had more folks working to clean up Wikiquote, these proverbs articles would deserve a severe paring and cleanup effort.
The Wikimedia Foundation's basic philosophy about accuracy is that we editors cannot include our own statements about what is correct or incorrect in the article, because the community has no way to know who any editor is (and therefore why we should believe one person's statement over another's ). The way we are supposed to avoid the problem is to cite evidence provided by responsible published sources.
I wouldn't be at all surprised if you're correct on this point, but rather than argue about it here, we should have a citation of a publication that provides both the original and its translation, so we don't need to argue it. You would help Wikiquote tremendously if you could cite such a publication, for this and any other proverbs (or any quotes, for that matter) that you find. Thank you for listening, and for calling attention to this problem. ~ Jeff Q (talk) 06:17, 30 August 2006 (UTC)

Fear gives wings [edit]

I corrected the meaning. Before: "Fear spreads quickly". This is not what the proverb is about. It means that fear will empower you to do things you wouldn't or couldn't do normally.

- well, "fear lends wings"

Trust is good, control is better [edit]

I'm not sure that the stated provenance from Lenin is correct. I've always understood that it was Stalin who coined this one. Moreover, for either of those two, this quote doesn't properly belong here, since it is not an original German proverb. Stalin didn't speak German anyway and whilst Lenin did, it was not his mother tongue, so in my view the quote should go to Russian proverbs, if it is a proverb at all and not an attribute aforism, which is something entirely different. --Recoloniser 18:50, 20 December 2007 (UTC)

Corrected from "Trust is good, control is even better." Might not be originating in German, but it is used quite often.
"Trust, but verify. [Ronald Reagan] "
from: http://www.dict.cc/?s=Trust+ist+good+Control+ist+better+%5Bfrei+nach+W+I+Lenin%5D - random girl from Austria

De oama in de jeetzya madt do mole [edit]

This is not Standard German. Im German and i don't know this proverb. I think its a strange dialect, could anyone please proove it? I would do it myself but i think my English is too bad.

The poor one (oama) and the greedy one (jeetzya) ... mole is either draw or grind. not sure about the rest, but the first words are in Plautdietsch, Mennonite Low German.

Jeetzya could also be translated as stingy. tollt do mole translated literally is pays two times. This is indeed Plautdietsch / Low German.

The early bird catches the worm [edit]

    • Translation: The early bird catches the worm
    • Meaning: Who get up early get's things done
    • Similar equivalent:?

10:55, 28 July 2009 (UTC)

Better your own bread than someone else's roast [edit]

-> it might also mean "Better your own bread than someone else's roast" rather than "... a strange roast", making it quite similar to the "a bird in the hand" -proverb ... ..just thought i 'd mention it .. its more like "do it your self is always better than begging other" / parents often say it to their children —The preceding unsigned comment was added by 2001: 638: 804: 20d8: 183: c419: 373f: de71 (talk • contribs) 11:20, 22 Mars 2013 (UTC)

Unsourced proverbs [edit]

NOTE: Sources must be provided for these before moving back to the main page.

A [edit]

  • Noblesse oblige.
    • Translation: Aristocracy obligates
    • Translation: Noblesse oblige
  • All sins flow into one.
    • Translation: All sins flow into one
  • All good things come in threes.
    • Translation: All good things are three.
    • Meaning: Good things come in numbers of three
    • Meaning: [Said on third attempt, strike, or similar third-ness. It does not usually invoke luck.]
    • Equivalent: Third time is a charm.
    • Equivalent: Third time lucky.
  • All good things come from above.
    • Translation: All good come from above.
    • Meaning: God gives us all good things, e.g. rain.
    • Or sometimes ironical, when something falls on someone's head.
  • Everything has an end, only the sausage has two.
    • Translation: Everything has an end, only sausage has two.
    • Meaning: Everything must come to an end.
  • Everything is new in May.
    • Translation: May makes everything new.
    • Meaning: In spring everything starts anew.
  • Old love doesn't rust.
    • Translation: Old love does not rust.
    • Equivalent: Old flames never die.
  • Age does not protect against stupidity.
    • Translation: Age does not protect from foolishness.
    • Equivalent: No fool like an old fool.
  • Old bread isn't hard, no bread, that's hard.
    • Translation: Old bread isn't hard, no bread, that is hard.
    • Meaning: It is better to have some food than no food.
  • Fear gives you wings.
    • Translation: Fear lends wings.
    • Meaning: Fear will make you do things you would deem impossible in a different situation.
  • Work ennobles.
    • Translation: Work ennobles.
  • Work brings work.
    • Translation: work involves work.
  • You learn to cook on old pans.
    • Translation: On old pots you learn cooking.
    • Meaning: Older women can teach you a lot in bed.
    • Similar equivalent: Women are like wine; the older the better.
  • On old horses you learn to ride.
    • Translation: On old horses you learn how to ride.
    • Meaning: see the one with the pots above.
  • After the rain, there will be sunshine.
    • Translation: There is sunshine after every rainfall.
    • Similar: Every cloud has a silver lining.
    • Similar equivalent: April showers bring May flowers.
  • Make a mountain out of a molehill.
    • Translation: To make an elephant out of a mosquito.
    • Equivalent: To make a mountain out of a molehill.
    • Meaning: To blow things out of proportion

B [edit]

  • Trees do not grow into the sky.
    • Translation: Trees do not grow into the sky.
    • Meaning: There are natural limits to things
    • Meaning: Grandiose [career] plans may not realize [completely]
  • Modesty is the highest form of arrogance.
    • Translation: Modesty is the highest form of arrogance.
  • Modesty is an ornament, but you can go further without it.
    • Translation: Modesty is an adornment, but you come further without it.
    • Translation: Modesty may be a grace; forget it if you want to win the race.
    • Meaning: Adornment is tought to the people but the successful ones don't care. (The rhyme is achieved by false German grammar. This symbolizes, that people, who don't care too much about rules will succeed).
  • Better your own bread than someone else's roast.
    • Translation: Better your own bread than another's roast.
    • Meaning: What's yours, is yours.
  • Better one-eyed than blind.
    • Translation: Better one-eyed than blind.
    • Equivalent: Better something than nothing.
  • Deceit is the shopkeeper's field and plow.
    • Translation: Fraud is a shopkeepers field and plow.
    • Meaning: Shopkeepers deal in fraud.
    • Equivalent: Buyer Beware.
  • Drunk people and children are telling the truth.
    • Translation: The drunk and children tell the truth.

D [edit]

  • Gratitude and wheat can only thrive on good soil.
    • Translation: Gratitude and wheat prosper only on good soil.
  • The egg wants to be smarter than the hen.
    • Translation: The egg wants to be smarter than the hen.
  • The wheel that squeaks the loudest gets the most fat.
    • Translation: The wheel that squeaks loudest gets most of the fat.
    • Equivalent: The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
  • It fits like a glove.
    • Translation: It fits like cast-on.
    • Meaning: Something — clothes normally — fits very well, as if specially made just for that person.
    • English equivalent: It fits like a glove.
  • It fits like an ass on a bucket. (not a traditional proverb-slang)
    • Translation: It fits like an ass on a bucket.
    • Meaning: like the one above, but in a more vulgarly way and actually not meant in case of clothes rather than in situations
  • Humility, this beautiful virtue, honors old age and youth.
    • Translation: Humility, this beautiful virtue, honors the age and the youth.
  • Make the goat to the gardener.
    • Lit. translation: Turn a billy-goat into a gardener.
    • Meaning: To disregard a trustee's harmful conflict of interests.
    • English equivalent: Setting a fox to guard the henhouse.
    • English equivalent: To trust the cat to keep the cream.
  • Saw off the branch you are sitting on.
    • Lit. translation: To saw off the branch (bough) you're sitting on.
    • Meaning: To foolishly undermine one's own position of power or revenue stream
    • Equivalent: To shoot oneself in the foot.
    • Similar: To bite the hand that feeds you.
  • The last will be bitten by the dogs.
    • Lit. translation: The last one is bitten by the dogs.
    • English equivalent: The devil takes the hindmost.
  • The devil always shits on the biggest pile.
    • Lit. translation: The devil always shits on the biggest pile.
    • Meaning: Where money already is, more money goes.
  • The devil is in the details.
    • Translation: The devil hides himself in details
    • English equivalent: The devil's in the details.
  • The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
    • Translation: The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
    • Meaning: Like father, like son.
  • The appetite comes while eating
    • Lit .: The appetite comes at the eating
    • Meaning .: Just do it. You will find out that it's fun while doing it.
  • The stupidest farmer harvests the thickest potatoes.
    • Translation: The dumbest farmer harvests the biggest potatoes.
    • Meaning: Dumb luck.
  • The first impression counts.
    • Translation: The first impressions counts.
    • Equivalent: First impression is the last impression
  • The bone does not come to the dog, but the dog to the bone.
    • Translation: The bone doesn't come to the dog, but the dog goes to the bone.
    • Meaning: You must pursue your dreams, they won't come to you.
  • The eavesdropper on the wall only hears his own shame.
    • Translation: The eavesdropper at the wall hears only his own dishonor.
  • The human thinks, God leads.
    • Translation: Humans think, God directs.
    • English equivalent: Man proposes, God disposes.
    • Variation / Extension: Man thought God was laughing.
    • Lit. Translation: Humans thought, God laughed
    • The variation puts the 1st part of the proverb grammatically into the past.
  • The route is the goal
    • Lit .: The path is the destination / The destination is not important, but the path that leads there.
    • Meaning: Enjoy the present without always dreaming of a better future.
  • German language difficult language.
    • Literally, German language, difficult language.
    • 1st Meaning: German language is hard to learn
    • Used when someone (usually German himself) has just made an embarrassing German grammar mistake.
    • General saying about the language.
  • The deed is more powerful than the word.
    • Translation: The action has a mightier impact than the word.
    • Similar: Actions speak louder than words.
  • Forge the iron while it's hot.
    • Strike the iron while it's hot / Make hay while the sun shines.
    • English equivalent: Strike while the iron is hot.
  • The stupidest farmers harvest the thickest potatoes.
    • Literally, The most stupid farmers harvest the biggest potatoes
    • Meaning: Dumb people are often very lucky.
    • Equivalent: The sun shines on a dog's tail sometimes. from Sam Sneed, golfer
  • Buy a pig in a poke.
    • Translation: To buy a cat in a bag.
    • Meaning: To pay for something you haven't seen or you know nothing about.
    • English equivalent: To buy a pig in a poke.
  • (Together or with XY) Go through thick and thin.
    • Translation: To go through thick an thin (together or with XY).
    • Meaning: To stay together no matter what.
    • Equivalent: They traveled through thick and thin.
  • The last shirt has no pockets.
    • Translation: The last shirt has no pockets.
    • Meaning: Piling up money won't serve you anything once you're dead.
    • Equivalent: Money isn't everything.
    • Equivalent: You can't take it with you.
  • The blind explains the colors to the one-eyed man.
    • Translation: The blind man explains the colors to the one-eyed man.
    • Meaning: Somebody tries to explain something he knows nothing about.
    • Similar equivalent: Blind leading the blind.
  • Among the blind, the one-eyed man is king.
    • Translation: Among the blind, the one-eyed man is king.
    • Equivalent: In the land of the blind, the one-eyed is king.
    • Meaning: Someone with limited means can only be considered superior by people with even more limited means.
  • Dumb fucks well.
    • Translation: Simpleminded fucks well.
    • Meaning: self-explanatory
    • Equivalent: Blonds have more fun

E [edit]

  • Imagination is also a formation.
    • Translation: Vanity is also an education.
    • Explanation: It's a pun: Bildung -> education; imagination -> Vanity So "imagination" is also some kind of "education".
  • A blind hen can find a grain.
    • Literally: A blind chicken finds a grain once in a while.
    • Equivalent: Even a broken clock is right twice a day.
  • You don't look a given horse in the mouth.
    • Translation: Don't look a gift horse in the mouth.
    • Meaning: Do not look for faults when something has been received as a gift.
  • One hand washes the other.
    • Literally: One hand washes the other.
    • Equivalent: You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours.
  • Once is never.
    • Literally: Once is never.
    • Meaning: Used often as an excuse for trying something again after the first try or to make somebody prove him / herself again.
    • Meaning 2: A first time open should be forgiven.
    • Meaning 3: "It's OK to try anything once." - As a rationalization or an excuse for doing something one perhaps shouldn't, one time.
    • Meaning 4: Something that happened once might as well never happened at all.
    • Note: Sometimes extended to Once is not a time, but twice is three times
    • Translation: Once is never, but twice is thrice. It all rhymes in German, as you can see
    • Note: Sometimes extended to Once is not once, but twice is once too much.
    • Translation: Once is never, but twice is once too often
    • Meaning: A first time open should be forgiven, but a second one will have consequences.
  • A drop in the ocean.
    • Literally: A drop on a hot stone.
    • Meaning: Not enough to make a difference.
    • English Equivalent: A drop in the sea.
    • English equivalent: A drop in the bucket.
  • All's well that ends well.
    • All's well that ends well.
  • Food comes first, then morality (Threepenny Opera)
    • Translation: First comes chow, then morals.
    • Meaning: A hungry man cannot afford a conscience.
    • Meaning: Higher ethics are not of much use to people whose basic needs are not met.
    • those were the original meanings from the Threepenny's Opera, however the saying got a life of its own and now in the semiliterate public means also and primarily: Morals can wait until pockets are full.
    • Similar: It's a dog-eat-dog world.
  • No master has fallen from the sky yet.
    • Literally: A master has never yet fallen from the sky.
    • Meaning: No one is an expert rightaway without any practice.
    • Similar: Practice makes perfect.
  • It pours with rain. (It pours like a bucket)
    • Literally: It's pouring as if out of buckets.
    • Meaning: Describes heavy rain.
    • Equivalent: It's bucketing it down. (Colloquial English)
    • Equivalent: It's raining cats and dogs.
  • Nothing is eaten as hot as it is cooked.
    • Literally: Nothing is eaten as hot as it is cooked.
    • Meaning: Maximum theoretical damage (like from laws, statues, future problem) is not standard in practice, you usually get cut some slack.
  • Et kütt like et kütt. (It comes as it comes.)
    • Literally: It comes as it comes.
    • Spanish equivalent: que será, será.
    • English equivalent: What will be, will be.
  • Et still had joot jejange. (It went well every time.)
    • Translation: It went well everytime.
    • Meaning: Do not fear the future.

F [edit]

  • Friends in need, go 1000 to a lot.
    • Translation: In time of need, 1000 friends shrink to a lot (16.5 grams).
    • Meaning: In bad times you have very few friends.
    • Equivalent: A friend in need is a friend indeed.
    • Equivalent: Remember man and keep in mind: A faithful friend is hard to find.

G [edit]

  • People of the same kind stick together.
    • Translation: Like and like love to join.
    • Birds of a feather flock together.
  • Hopping like jumping. OR Honked as if duped. OR Bounced as jumped.
    • Translation: Hopped just as jumped.
    • Meaning: Two solutions are basically equivalent.
    • English equivalent: Six of one, half a dozen of the other.
  • A gift is a gift - returned to hell OR A gift is a gift - repeating is stolen
    • Lit .: A present is a present - you'll go to hell if you are taking it back.
    • Meaning: Gifts are final. (Ironically, they are not always under German law.)
  • "It's a matter of taste," says the monkey, biting into the soap.
    • Lit .: "A matter of taste" says the monkey and bites into soap.
    • Meaning: Personal tastes differ.
  • Good things take time
    • Lit .: A good thing demands to take a while.
    • Meaning: It takes time to achieve good quality.
    • English equivalent: Rome wasn't built in a day.
  • Good advice never comes too late
    • Meaning: Good advice never comes too late.

H [edit]

  • Jack of all trades
    • Equivalent: jack-of-all-trades
  • If you have money, you don't have to bow.
    • Literal Translation: If you have money, you need not bend.
    • Correct meaning: If you are rich, you need not bow.

I [edit]

  • I only understand train station
    • Translation: I only understand Trainstation
    • English equivalent: It's all Greek to me.
  • Eat what is cooked, drink what is clear, and speak what is true. (obsolescent)
    • Translation: Eat what's been well cooked, drink liquids which are clear, and speak what is true.
    • More modern (and vulgar) form: eat what is done, drink what is clear, fuck what is there.
    • Translation: Gorge what's been well cooked, drink what's available (alcohol) ["klar" -> clear OR available / ready (colloquial)] fuck what's around.
  • Beggars can not be choosers
    • Translation: During hardship, the devil eats flies.
    • English equivalent: Beggars can't be choosers.
  • Brevity is the soul of wit.
    • Translation: In briefness lies the spice.
    • Meaning: Be concise; don't ramble.
    • English equivalent: Brevity is the soul of wit (Shakespeare)
  • In times of need, the sausage tastes good even without bread.
    • Translation: In hardship, the sausage is just as delicious without bread.
    • Meaning: Enjoy luxury as long as you have it.
    • Meaning: Silly saying either ironically loathing the taste of bread or those who prefer the sausage.
  • At night all the cats are grey
    • Translation: In the night all cats are gray
    • Meaning: Human vision switches to monochrome mode in the dark.
    • Meaning: Used when explaining why you could not discern one thing from the other, either literally or as a metaphor. (Polite)
    • other meaning: If it is late enough and I am drunk enough I don´t care what my one-night-stand looks like. (Vulgar)

J [edit]

  • Jacket like pants.
    • Translation: Jacket like pants.
    • Meaning: Six of one, half a dozen of the other.
  • Every favor takes revenge.
    • Translation: No favor goes unpunished.
    • Meaning: Even if you do a good deed you might get in trouble for that.
  • Everyone is different. Used mainly in the Rhineland (Cologne etc.).
    • Translation: Every loony is different.
    • Meaning: Show some broad-mindedness.
  • Every fool is pleased with it.
    • Translation: Every jester likes his hat.
    • Meaning: Personal tastes differ.

K [edit]

  • Time will tell.
    • Literally: If time comes, advice comes.
    • Meaning: With time comes insight.
  • If the rooster crows on the dung, the weather changes or it stays as it is.
    • Literally: If the cock crows on the dung heap, the weather will change or stay the way it is.
    • Meaning: Do not rely upon proverbs! or The opinion of loud but insignificant people has no influence on the world.
    • Meaning: Satirizing bad science or old wives' tales.
    • Romanian: Daca se urca un cocos pe un maldar de gunoi, poate ploua, poate nu ploua.
  • Clothes make the man
  • No answer is also an answer.
    • Literally: No answer is also an answer.
    • Meaning: Not responding to a question is still replying.
    • Similar: Silence equals consent.
  • The mouth of a child reveals the truth.
    • Literally: The mouthes of children proclaim the truth.
    • Similar: From the mouths of babes.
  • It is difficult to speak cleverly, and even more so to be cleverly silent
    • Literally: It's indeed hard to talk cleverly, still harder to be silent cleverly
    • Meaning: Know when to keep your mouth shut
  • No matter what the cost.
    • Meaning: Achieve something by whatever it will cost
    • Similar: Come hell or high water.
  • One cow makes moo, many cows make trouble.
    • Literally: One cow moss, many cows make work.
    • Explanation: It's a pun: "macht Muh" is the German equivalent to "makes a moo (sound)". The grammatical plural form would be "make moo (sounds)] but something" makes trouble "means" gives trouble "," makes work "[" Mühe = trouble, effort ...]

L [edit]

  • "Long thread, lazy girl"
    • Lit. translation: Long thread for a lazy girl
    • English equivalent
  • Live like God in France.
    • Lit. translation: To live like God in France. (Sometimes, other Countries / Regions / Cities etc. than France are used. The meaning stays the same: "To live like God in ...", or to live the comfortable life of people in ... ")
    • English equivalent: To live the life of Riley.
    • English equivalent: To live in clover.
  • Have a body in the basement.
    • Translation: To have a corpse in the basement.
    • English equivalent: Skeletons in the closet.
  • Better to lick the knife than hand over the spoon.
    • Translation: Better to lick the knife than to give up the spoon.
    • Meaning: It is preferable to face adversity than to die.

M [edit]

  • You have to howl with the wolves. or howl with the wolves
    • Translation: With the wolves one must howl.
    • Similar: When in Rome, do as the Romans do.
  • With friends like that, you don't need enemies anymore.
    • Lit. Translation: With such friends, one doesn't need enemies anymore.
    • English Proverb: With friends like these, who needs enemies?
    • Meaning: Said if people considered to be friend behave in reality as the worst enemies.
  • Tomorrow, tomorrow, just not today, all lazy people say.
    • Translation: Tomorrow, but not today, is what lazy people say.
    • Meaning: If you postpone something, you are lazy. Said usually to tease someone.
  • You hit the sack and mean the donkey.
    • Translation: Hitting the bag, aiming at the donkey.
    • Meaning: To punish someone for someone else's mistake.
  • You are what you eat. or You are what you eat.
    • Lit. translation: "You are what you eat." or "One is what one eats."
    • In German this is a pun: Man (one) is (is) what (what) man (one) eats (eats).
    • English Proverb: You are what you eat.
  • With patience and spit it will be fine..
    • Lit. translation: With patience and spit it will go.
    • Meaning: Make haste slowly.
    • Originates from the fiddling of a needle: spit on the loose end and take your time, or you'll have to try it several times.
  • With patience and spit you can catch a mosquito [actually: mosquito]. (humorous, obsolescent)
    • Lit. translation: With patience and spit one gets the midge (gnat / mosquito).
    • Meaning: like the original proverb, just put into a rhyme (and to get a midge you better are patient).

O [edit]

["ohne" = "without"]

  • No pain no gain.
    • Lit .: No diligence, no prize.
    • No pain no gain.
    • No sweet without sweat.
  • No party without clay (Not traditional)
    • Lit .: No money ["Knete" is a colloquial form for money, lit: plasticine], no party.
    • No mon (ey), no fun.
  • Nothing going on without moss. (Not traditional)
    • Lit .: No money ["Moos" is a colloquial form for money, lit. "Moos" = "moss"], nothing going on.
    • No mon (ey), no fun.

P [edit]

  • Paper is patient.
    • Translation: Paper is patient.
    • English equivalent: Paper doesn't blush.
    • Meaning: This writing isn't true.
    • Alternative meaning: Paper will listen when people won't. Write a diary.
    • Alternative meaning: Nobody reads what's on paper. Go and complain in person.
  • Testing is above studying.
    • Lit. translation: Trying is worth more than studying.
    • English equivalent: The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

R [edit]

  • Speech is silver, silence is gold
    • Lit .: Talking is Silver, Silence is Gold
    • English Proverb: Talk is cheap, silence is golden.
  • Into the potatoes - out of the potatoes. or Sometimes like this; sometimes like that or ... like the flag in the wind. or Sometimes huh, sometimes hott
    • Literal translation: [Jump] into the potatoes, [jump] out of the potatoes.
    • English equivalent: To chop and change.
    • English equivalent: To blow hot and cold.
  • Rome wasn't built in a day either.
    • Rome wasn't built in a day.
    • Meaning: If you aim high, allow time.
    • Usually an excuse for being slow.

S [edit]

  • Schadenfreude is the greatest joy.
    • Translation: Joy from others' misfortune is the best joy.
    • Meaning: Taking pleasure from someone else's misfortune is most enjoyable.
  • old news
    • Translation: Snow from yesteryear. (lit. yesterday)
    • Meaning: A past occurrence, especially something unfortunate, that cannot be undone or rectified.
    • English Equivalent :: Water under the bridge.
    • Alternative meaning: A metaphore to express that something is old and not up to date.
    • English Equivalent: Yesterday's news.
  • City air makes you free.
    • City air makes you free.
    • Meaning: In medieval times peoples living in free cities were free from a sovereign. They were not bond slaves like the people in rural areas. So living in a city - ´breathing city air´- meant to be free from bond-slavery to a sovereign. People living in cities could express their own opinion without being harassed. If people escaped to a free city and lived there for one year and one day, they were free of any previous bond to a sovereign.
  • That sounds Spanish to me.
    • Translation: It seems Spanish to me.
    • Meaning: There's something strange.
    • English Equivalent: That's a bit fishy.

T [edit]

  • The dead live longer!
    • Lit. Translation: Declared dead live longer!
    • Similar: There's life in the old dog yet.
  • Dreams are foam.
    • Translation: Dreams are foam.
    • Meaning: A dream has nothing to do with reality.
  • Trust, look who.
    • Translation: Trust, (but) look, whom.
    • Meaning: One should be carefull whom one trusts.

U [edit]

  • Practice creates masters
    • Translation: Practice makes the master.
    • Meaning: Practice makes perfect.
  • Among the blind, the one-eyed man is king
    • Translation: In the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king
    • Latin origin: In regione caecorum rex est luscus (Erasmus)
    • Meaning: To stand out doesn't neccessarily imply / require perfection, but to be better then others

V [edit]

  • Becoming a father is not difficult, but being a father is very difficult (Wilhelm Busch)
    • Translation: It's easy to become a father, but hard to be one
  • Trust is good, control is better (coined by Lenin)
    • Trust is good, but verification is better
    • Trust but verify.
  • Too many cooks spoil the broth.
    • (Too) Many cooks spoil the broth.
    • Meaning: Large teams are inefficient.
    • Meaning: Shared leadership does not work.
  • Many roads lead to Rome.
    • Translation: Many roads lead to Rome.
    • Meaning: There may be more than one way to solve this problem.
    • Or: In the end, it doesn't matter how you reached your aim.
    • Or: You cannot really avoid or miss [whatever Rome stands for]
    • Similar: There's more than one way to skin a cat.
  • Much enemy much ore'.
    • Literal: "Much enemy [sic], much honor"
    • Common proverb attributed to Georg von Frundsberg (1473-1528), a German Landsknecht commander
    • Meaning: "Who fights a lot will be honored a lot". Also often used when refering to difficult non-military challenges.
    • Meaning: Honorable it is to have [made] many adversaries [implying: having spoken out for truth and cause]
    • English equivalent: The more danger, the more honor
    • English equivalent: More risk, more reward
  • Having lots of hands makes work easy. (obsolescent)
    • Many hands make light work
  • Four eyes see more than two.
    • Four eyes see more than two.
    • English equivalent: Two heads are better than one.
  • Eat, bird, or die! (so: Eat or die!)
    • Lit. translation: Eat, bird, or die! (Eat or die!)
    • Meaning: You're in a sticky situation where you don't have much of a choice among a wide variety of gourmet meals. In a wider sense, you've got to make do with some unpleasant prospect because the alternative is even worse.
    • English equivalent: It's sink or swim.
    • English equivalent: Take it or leave it!
    • There's an outdated expression in English that was current at the time of the Civil War: "Root, hog, or die!"
  • From nothing, comes nothing
    • Lit. translation: "From nothing comes nothing.
    • Meaning: The outcome of your effort is related to the effort you put into it. If you don't try, you aren't going to get any results.
    • English equivalent: You can't make something out of nothing.
    • English equivalent: No pain, no gain.
    • English equivalent: There ain't no such thing as a free lunch (TANSTAAFL).

W [edit]

  • What is right for one is cheap for another.
    • Translation: "What's right for one, is fair for the other."
    • English equivalent: "What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander."
    • English equivalent: One man's meat is another man's poison.
  • What the farmer does not know, he does not eat.
    • Translation: "What the peasant doesn't know, he doesn't eat."
    • Meaning: Used when criticizing someone for refusing to try new ways of doing something.,
  • What you can get today, don't postpone it until tomorrow.
    • Translation: Don't postpone things you can do today to tomorrow.
    • Meaning: You should do tasks straightaway without any postponement.
    • English equivalent: A stitch in time saves nine
    • Spanish equivalent: No dejes para mañana lo que puedes hacer hoy.
  • What you have got yourself into, you have to spoon out.
    • Literal translation: "What one dishes out, he must also eat."
    • English equivalent: "You made your bed, now lie in it."
    • English equivalent: "You do the crime, you do the time"
  • What Hans never learned, Hans never learns again.
    • Translation: "What Hänschen (diminutive, little Hans) didn't learn, (grown-up) Hans will never learn."
    • "You can't teach an old dog new tricks."
  • If the shoe fits, put it on.
    • Translation: "He whom the shoe fits puts it on."
    • Meaning: If something (usually bad) true has been said about you, better to accept it than to disagree.
    • Meaning2: If something bad has been said about someone, this person reacts angrily only if it is true.
    • English equivalent: "If the shoe fits, wear it."
  • When crooks argue, the truth emerges.
    • Translation: When scoundrels argue, the truth is revealed.
    • Meaning: Secret or criminal acts can only be kept a secret as long as the perpetrators do not quarrel among themselves.
  • Anyone who does not honor the penny is not worth the thaler or Anyone who does not honor the cent is not worth the euro.
    • Translation: You aren't worth the Taler (ancient German currency) if you don't honor the Pfennig. (f. G. c.) or You aren't worth the Euro if you don't honor the Cent.
    • Meaning: If you dont respect small amounts of money, you dont deserve big amounts of money.
  • Who does not want it, already has it.
    • Lit. translation: Who wants not, has already.
    • Translation: He who does not want something already has enough.
    • Meaning: Slightly oponionated reply to a refused offer. "So you are provided for already")
    • Meaning: If someone offers something and you dont speak up, the guy either remindes you that you need it real bad or that he wants more appreciation.
    • Similar English idioms: "Use it or lose it." "Speak now or forever hold your peace."
  • Who laughs last, laughs best.
    • "He who laughs last, laughs best."
  • Wes 'bread I eat, des' song I sing.
    • Translation: "Whose bread I eat, that's whose song I sing."
    • Meaning: "He who pays the piper calls the tune."
  • If you have a choice, you are spoiled for choice.
    • Literally: "Who has the choice, has the suffering"
    • Meaning: Decisions can be painful.
    • Meaning: Having the choice also means having to choose.
  • Wine on beer, I advise you. Beer on wine, let that be. (humorous)
    • Translation: "Wine on beer, I recommend to you. Beer on wine, leave alone."
    • Meaning: "Cider on beer, never fear; beer upon cider, makes a bad rider."
    • Alternate: "Liquor before beer, all is clear; beer before liquor, get sicker and sicker."
    • American: "Beer on whiskey, pretty risky; Whiskey on beer, have no fear." or "Liquor before beer, you're in the clear; beer before liquor, never been sicker."
  • As you make your bed, so you lie.
    • Literally: "As you put yourself to bed, so you will lie."
    • Meaning: "You made your bed, now lie in it."
    • Meaning: Everyone makes his own fate.
  • Like bad luck and brimstone.
    • Lit .: "Like pitch and sulfur."
    • Meaning: "E.g. good friends, who are inseparable or / and make all together, are like pitch and sulfur."
  • Where wood is chopped, splinters must fall.
    • Lit .: "Where you plane splinters fall."
    • Meaning: If something non-trivial gets done there are non-perfect aspects to it.
    • Meaning: "You can't make an omelette without breaking eggs."
  • Where else could spirit be sought?
    • Lit .: "Where there could be a mind you should search."
  • When two people quarrel, the third is happy.
    • Lit .: "When two quarrel, the third rejoices."
  • If you rest, you rust.
    • Translation: "He who rests, will be rusting."
    • Meaning: "If you stop moving (in both a physical and an intellectual meaning) it gets harder to start moving again."
    • English proverb: "Use it or lose it." "A rolling stone gathers no moss."
  • Whoever wants to pop has to be able to smile. (vulgar) (nontraditional)
    • Translation: "If you want to fuck, you have to know how to smile."
    • Meaning: "If you keep this bad mood, you'll never find a girlfriend."
  • "Like the ox in front of the barn door"
    • Translation: "Like the ox in front of the barn door"
    • Meaning: Said when someone sees the way he must go (the obvious solution), yet he's afraid to go it.

Z [edit]

  • Time is money.
    • Translation: Time is money. (Henry Ford)
  • Three Z like to be together: reveler, brawler, tongue smith. (obsolescent)
    • Literal translation: Three Z like to be together: drinker, quarreller, tongue-smith.
    • Meaning: Drinking leads to arguments and loose talk.
  • Killing two birds with one stone
    • Literal translation: Hit two flies with one fly swatter.
    • Meaning: To solve two problems with one sophisticated solution.
    • English equivalent: Kill two birds with one stone.
  • Two souls and one thought, two hearts and one beat. (obsolescent)
    • Translation: Two souls, one thought, Two hearts, one beat.
  • Two stupid ones, one thought. , so: Two sick people, one thought. (vulgar) (nontraditional)
    • Translation: Two idiots, one thought.
    • English equivalent: Great minds think alike.
    • Explanation: Usually said referring to oneself and someone else who has had the same idea. Generally considered banter and thus not as offensive as it may sound.
  • Two bottles, a refrigerator. (nontraditional)
    • Literal translation: Two twerps, one fridge.
    • Meaning: Two people had the same (dumb or obvious) idea at the same time.
    • Explanation: "Bottle" can mean "bottle" or "twerp" (idiot).Less offensive than "Zwei Kranke, ein Gedanke", but may not be understood as easily even by native speakers.

Everything is worth its price. [Edit]

Could this also translate to "You get what you pay for"? 04:28, 22 May 2013 (UTC)

No. It says "a matter's price does not arise from hazard, (even if it may look haphazardly,) it arises from somebody's evaluation of the matter. So, at least for this one seller, it is worth the crazy value stated in his price suggestion , for if offered less, he would not sell. " WaldiR (talk)

The straight path is the best. [Edit]

Article gives a wrong, banal, too literal meaning ("Shortcuts are often longcuts."), Missing the allegory.
Correct meaning: "Straightforward approach is the best approach.", Recommending to abstain from tricks, lies and the like, for such are not only unethical, but would even aggravate achieving one's goal.
No source, just my German.
And now tell me that sourced nonsense is valued over unsourced wisdom :-)
MY wisdom! WaldiR (talk)

Your meaning is now added, and the previous one removed. --Spannerjam (talk) 06:30, 19 October 2013 (UTC)