Common German Idioms - Idiomatische Ausdrücke

Idioms, phrases and proverbs constitute an important part of language. They are passed down through tradition, culture and history. It is often impossible to trace their origin. An idiom is generally defined as an expression peculiar to the language that gave gave it birth. If translated literally, an idiomatic expression either cease to represent the same idea, or would fail altogether to convey any sensible meaning at all. Idiomatic expressions are numerous and difficult, yet no one can claim they speak a language "like a native" without having mastered at least a thousand of them. If nonnative speakers do not understand idioms, they will never be able to integrate and, instead, they will always be outsiders.

Although some German idioms can be directly translated into English, many other take time to understand or simply cannot be translated which makes them difficult to learn and understand. Learning an idiom in a relevant and practical sentence will help to remember its meaning easily. It is helpful to form a mental picture whenever possible when learning an idiom. Usually, this mental image is based on the literal meaning of the idiom, but the image helps the learner derive the figurative meaning and in the process aids idiom understanding and retention. This strategy is based on the theory that "dual coding" (image + language) enhances learning. Mental images are a good indicator of how well you understand the expression.

This German Grammar Accelerator offers useful idioms and phrasal expressions and examples for a clearer understanding. The example sentences provide contextual support for more in-depth understanding of the meaning.

Daumen Drücken

Literal meaning: press thumbs

English equivalent: cross one's fingers, keep your fingers crossed, fingers crossed

Origin: The precise origin of the gesture is unknown. Common usage of the gesture traces back to the early centuries of the Catholic Church. Common use of crossed finger is found in the Christians who would cross their fingers to invoke the power associated with Christ's cross for protection, when faced with evil. (source: Wikipedia)

Wir müssen die Daumen drücken.

Keep your fingers crossed.

Daumen drücken.

Keep your fingers crossed.

Ich bete für Sie und werde Ihnen auch die Daumen drücken.

I'll pray for you. And I'll cross my fingers as well.

Jetzt können wir warten und Daumen drücken.

Now we wait, and keep our thumbs crossed.

Ich werde uns die Daumen drücken.

I'll keep my fingers crossed.

Selbstverständlich werde ich den beiden die Daumen drücken.

Oh, you bet I'll keep my fingers crossed.

Daumen drücken.

Fingers crossed.

Jetzt müssen wir nur noch die Daumen drücken.

All we gotta do now is cross our fingers.

Ich werde dir wirklich ganz fest beide Daumen drücken.

My fingers are crossed in double knots for you.

Ich sollte hier stehenbleiben und Daumen drücken.

I had to stay put and keep my fingers crossed.

Gleicher Ausgang, aber du weißt schon, du solltest die Daumen drücken.

Same result, but, you know, you should root for it.

Deswegen müssen wir auch die Daumen drücken.

That's why we need to keep our fingers crossed.