13 German idioms featuring birds

13 German idioms featuring birds

Don’t you just love idioms? Like ‘the early bird catches the worm’ or ‘a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush’. I was always told that, if you know idioms in a foreign language, you’re  fluent (or, alternatively, if you can swear in that language ☺)
So, are there any ‘bird’ idioms or phrases in German? Yes is the answer and here they are:

  • einen Vogel haben – to have bats in the belfry
  • den Vogel abschießen – to take the biscuit
  • ein komischer Vogel – an odd duck
  • ein schräger Vogel – an odd fish
  • frei wie ein Vogel – free as a bird
  • Der frühe Vogel frisst den Wurm – the early bird catches the worm
  • Der Vogel ist ausgeflogen – the bird has flown the nest
  • weder Fisch noch Vogel sein – to fall between the stools
  • Du siehst wie einen Vogelscheuche (scarecrow) aus – You look like something the cat’s dragged in
  • Vogel-Strauß-Politik betreiben – to bury one’s head in the sand
  • der Pechvogel – jinx, unlucky person
  • Vogel friss oder stirb – sink or swim
  • ein lustiger Vogel – a funny guy

Have you heard any of these phrases before? Which one is your favourite?

I’ll leave you with some ‘lustige Vögel’, some real funny birds – no German required ☺


6 thoughts on “13 German idioms featuring birds”

  1. very in-depth, thank you. I had not come across the odd fish/duck. Which reminds me – I live in the East Midlands where people in working class contexts greet each other as ‘duck’ (pronounced with u not a!) – clearly a term of endearment.
    When I had my first telephone conversation with my first client in my first locum social work assignment here some 9 years ago, I insisted the male client use my name instead. – He was very apologetic, I soon learned the connotations and we got on very well from there.

  2. My Bavarian mother-in-law had a saying that sounded like this: “Geckel (or Gickel) on a misthaven”
    She would use it when someone thought a little too highly of themselves. And said it literally was about a rooster on a compost heap. I can’t find this anywhere. Perhaps it is some sort of slang from Bavaria. Does anyone know anything about this?


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