“The morning hour has gold in its mouth”: German Idioms Part II

I’ve bought myself a little notebook to start writing in new words and phrases I’m learning, as it got to the point where I realised I was enjoying learning new stuff, but a week later then realising I didn’t actually learn it because I’d bloody well forgotten it again.

Because of this, some friends have started really forcefully using idioms around me, even those that some may not even use anymore, and some of which haven’t even been heard of by other Germans. But who cares? It’s German and I love it! So here are some fun German idioms I’ve learnt over the past few weeks.

—-

Morgenstund hat Gold im Mund.

(literally: The morning hour has gold in its mouth.)

translation: The early bird catches the worm.

I definitely prefer the idea of being early to get some gold and not to catch a worm! Though I’m pretty sure German does also have the worm idiom: “Der frühe Vögel fängt den Wurm”. I’ll just wake up to the idea of gold in future.

—-

Ein blindes Huhn findet auch mal ein Korn.

(literally: A blind hen also sometimes finds a piece of corn.)

translation: Every dog has its day.

The online dictionary I use, dict.cc, is telling me we also have a similar idiom about a blind hen in English, though I’ve never heard of it before!

—-

Der Groschen fällt pfennigweise.

(literally: The penny falls penny by penny.)

translation: the cogs slowly click into place (or something like that!)

We don’t have a phrase for this. The Germans say “wenn der Groschen fällt” which means “when the penny drops” in terms of somebody realising something, but this is more of a play on words in German about how slow it takes for this penny to drop sometimes when somebody takes ages to understand a joke or something. This is also one of the idioms that other Germans I asked had never heard of it, but it’s schön nonetheless.

—-

Pi mal Daumen

(literally: pi-times thumb (I think?!).)

translation: approximately/roughly

This phrase is used when somebody is guessing at something. I got very confused when I heard it first, throwing the word “pi” and “Daumen” in the same phrase, especially because of how not obvious it is what on earth is being spoken about. But yeah, it turns out it’s just a fun way of saying “approximately” or “about”!

—-

über die Runden kommen

(literally: to come over the rounds)

translation: to make ends meet

Less of a funny one this time but still nice all the same. We make ends meet (I’m assuming the end of one month and the start of the next), whereas Germans come over rounds as if it’s all a big cycle.

—-

und damit Basta!

(literally: and with that enough!)

translation: and that’s that!

A nice one to end on. Though the word “Basta” looks like one of my favourite swear words (luckily this was written to me and not said to me otherwise I would have slightly panicked at first), this isn’t necessarily always used in a negative sense, like at the end of an argument. It was said to me in a nice way, chatting about something which could be a problem but we know what we want at the end of the day so there’s no need to worry – und damit Basta!

 

I do love German, I do. I’ll make sure to put more idioms or fun words or phrases or whatever when I start getting more written down in my book. And I hope if you’re reading this at this early time on a Saturday that you found the gold in the morning hour’s mouth.

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5 thoughts on ““The morning hour has gold in its mouth”: German Idioms Part II

  1. The saying comes from an old Sicilian tradition . The night before the engagement party of his eldest daughter in a family that was hiding in the mouth of one of the ” masks ” the fountains of the country one of the jewels , usually gold , given to her by his maternal grandmother . The next morning the unmarried girls of the village were hunting the jewel ( that according to popular belief would lead to a rapid engagement ) , with the right to keep it to himself . Obviously , those who got up before he had a better chance of finding the jewel in the mouth of the ” mask ” of the fountain chosen .

  2. …a little correction on the “Groschen” idiom. A “Groschen” is a tenpence, not a penny, so it means “Dropping a tenpence penny by penny”, or “the tenpence is falling penny by penny”, which fits better with the image of some person slowly assembling the meaning of a joke, concept etc in their head piece by piece (penny) until they see the whole thing (tenpence).

    But anyway, I really enjoy your blog and your fascination with the German language, it’s a perspective you don’t get to hear everyday 🙂

    1. Hi Leo!

      Ah, thanks for the correction there. That does make a lot more sense now. I’ve been using that phrase a lot recently 🙂

      Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoy reading future posts about the German language, I’m sure there’ll be plenty more to come!

      Dan

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