‘Tierisch gut?’ – How to use animals in German expressions

Image © doigoi

A few weeks ago, we shared some German expressions to do with colours. This week, we want you to discover how to integrate animals into your language usage and how frequently they are used as metaphors in German.

 Tierisch’ – literally ‘animally’, means ‘extremely, incredibly’

‘Wir spielen tierisch gerne Fußball’ – ‘We just love to play football’

Mit jemandem Pferde stehlen können’ – literally ‘to be able to steal horses with someone’ – means someone is a ‘partner in crime’ or simply ‘a great companion’
‘Mit dir kann man Pferde stehlen!‘ – ‚You’re my partner in crime‘

Eine Fliege machen’ – literally ‘to make a fly’ – means ‘to leg it’, or ‘get lost’.
‘Mach ‘ne Fliege!’ – ‘Get lost!’

Schwein haben‘ – literally ‘to have pig’ – means ‘to be lucky, as the pig is a symbol for good luck
‘Schwein gehabt!’ – ‘That was lucky!’


Hunde-elend’ – literally ‘dog-terrible’, means ‘sick/bad as a dog’
‘Mir geht’s hunde-elend’ – ‘I feel terrible / sick as a dog’

Mucksmäuschenstill’ – literally ‘quiet as a mouse
‘Es wurde mucksmäuschenstill im Zimmer’ – ‘You could have heard a pin drop in the room’

Einen Vogel haben‘ – very useful, literally ‚to have a bird‘, means to be insane
‘Du hast doch ‘nen Vogel!’ – ‘You must be mad!’

Ausgefuchst’ – literally ‘foxed out’ because foxes are meant to be very clever –  means ‘ingenious, clever or cunning’
‘Ein ausgefuchster Plan’ – ‘A cunning plan’

Fuchsteufelswild‘ – literally ‚fox-devils-wild‘ – means very angry, fuming with rage, aggressive, due to the fox’s red colour
‘Da wird sie fuchsteufelswild’ – ‘That makes her so angry’

Bock haben‘ – also very useful for colloquial conversations – literally ‘to have a goat’, can also be used in the negated form – means ‘to be up for something’
‘Ich hab keinen Bock mehr!‘ – ‘I can’t be bothered anymore!’

Aus einer Mücke einen Elefanten machen‘ – literally ‚to make an elephant out of a mosquito‘ – means ‘to make a mountain out of a molehill’.

Schneckentempo’ – literally ‘snail speed’ – means incredibly slow, of course
‘Wir fuhren im Schneckentempo!’ – ‘We were driving so slowly!’

Hope you have a bit of fun with these! Most German-speakers would be pretty impressed if you came up with them, just make sure you use them in the right moment, otherwise it could cause a bit of awkwardness! 😉