1. Education
Send to a Friend via Email

German-English Glossary

Idioms / Redewendungen • K

An annotated collection of idioms, sayings, and proverbs in German

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | P | W (more to come)

Also see:
   > Introduction to this glossary
   > Idioms and Sayings: Contents

GLOSSARY GUIDE: To find an idiom, saying, or proverb, look for it alphabetically by key word or key phrase. Example: To find "Alles hat ein Ende, nur die Wurst hat zwei," you could look under "A" for "alles," "E" for "Ende," or "W" for "Wurst" (when the glossary is complete). All idioms or sayings are listed in German with an English translation. English in parentheses ( ) indicates the literal translation of an expression or proverb.


Kacke (caca, sh**) > Dann ist aber die Kacke am Dampfen.
   Then the sh** will really hit the fan.

Kaffee (coffee) > Das ist kalter Kaffee.
   That's old hat. ("cold coffee")

Kaffee (coffee) > Da kommt einem der Kaffee hoch.
   It's enough to make you puke/sick. ("the coffee comes back up")

Kaffee (coffee) > Dir haben sie wohl etwas in den Kaffee getan.
   You've got to be joking/kidding. ("they must have put something in your coffee")

Kaiser (emperor) > Da wo selbst der Kaiser zu Fuß hingeht.
   The smallest room in the house./The bathroom. ("where even the emperor goes on foot")

Kaiser (emperor) > Das ist ein Streit um des Kaisers Bart.
   That's just splitting hairs. ("an argument over the emperor's beard")

Kaiser (emperor) > Wo nichts ist, hat der Kaiser sein Recht verloren.
   You can't get blood out of turnip/stone. ("where there's nothing, the emperor has lost his right")

Kakao (cocoa) > jmdn durch den Kakao ziehen
   to make fun of s.o., to ridicule s.o. ("to drag s.o. through the cocoa")

Kamel (camel) > Eher geht ein Kamel durchs Nadelöhr.
   It's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.

Kante (edge) > etwas auf die hohe Kante legen/haben
   to save/have something (set aside) for a rainy day

Example: "Wir haben Geld auf die hohe Kante gelegt." (We put some money away for a rainy day.)

Kalk (lime, calcium) > Bei ihm rieselt schon der Kalk.
   He's losing his marbles./He's not quite all there. ("the calcium is falling like snow")
    Compare with: verkalkt (senile)

Kater (tomcat) > einen Kater haben
   to have a hangover

Katze (cat) > Das ist alles für die Katz.
   That's for the birds. ("for the cat")

Katzensprung (cat's jump) > ein Katzensprung
   a stone's throw

klug (clever, smart) > Aus Fehlern wird man klug.
   We learn from our mistakes. ("from mistakes you become smart")

Knoten (knot) > einen Knoten ins Handtuch machen
  See Knoten: Getting Tied Up in Knots - in German

Kopf (head) > Hals über Kopf
   head over heels ("neck over head")

Kopf (head) > Mir raucht der Kopf.
   My head is spinning. ("head is smoking")

Kopf (head) > Was man nicht im Kopf hat, muss man in den Beinen haben.
   You'd/I'd forget your/my head if it wasn't attached. A bit more thought would have saved a lot of legwork.

Krach (noise, din) > mit Ach und Krach
   by the skin of one's teeth, with great effort

Kram (junk) > Das passt mir nicht in den Kram.
   It's a blasted nuisance.

Kraut (herb) > Dagegen ist kein Kraut gewachsen.
   There's no remedy for that. There's nothing anyone can do about that.

Kreide (chalk) > bei jmdm tief in der Kreide stehen
   to be deep in debt to s.o.

Example: "Beim Zahnarzt steht sie schon tief in der Kreide." (She's already deep in debt to the dentist.)

Kreuz (cross) > in die Kreuz und in die Quer
   this way and that, every which way (see kreuz und quer below)

Kreuz (cross) > zu Kreuze kriechen
   to eat humble pie/eat crow ("crawl to the cross")

kreuz und quer all over, every which way

Krug (jug, pitcher) > Der Krug geht so lange zum Brunnen, bis er bricht.
   One day you/they will come to grief. One day you'll take it too far. ("the pitcher goes to the well until it breaks")

Kuh (cow) > Ich bin keine Kuh, die man melken kann.
   I'm not made of money. ("not a cow to be milked")

Kuh (cow) > wie die Kuh vorm neuen Tor/vorm Berg dastehen
   to be completely baffled ("like a cow standing in front of a new gate/the mountain")

Kuhhaut (cowhide) > Das geht auf keine Kuhhaut.
   That's absolutlely incredible/staggering. ("doesn't go onto a cowhide")

Kunst (art) > Das ist eine brotlose Kunst.
   There's no money in it. ("a breadless art")

Kunst (art) > Das ist keine Kunst.
   It's like taking candy from a baby. It's a piece of cake. ("it's no art")

Kunst (art) > nach allen Regeln der Kunst
   (by) using every trick in the book ("by all the rules of the art")

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | P | W (more to come)

START > Introduction to this glossary

MORE > Idioms and Sayings: Contents

Idioms and Sayings: Contents
All of our articles, glossaries, and resources related to idioms and sayings in German.

Day by Day: German 'Day' Expressions
A detailed look at day-to-day and daily vocabulary in German - with two self-scoring quizzes.

False Friends/Falsche Freunde
About those tricky false cognates in German and English.

German Proverb Quiz 1
A self-scoring quiz in which you match up the English and German version of some common sayings.

More English-German Glossaries
Annotated glossaries on many topics. From your Guide.

Wort des Tages
What's today's German word of the day?

German Newsletters
Subscribe to a free newsletter!

German Chat


You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.