Do you speak Denglish?

Do you speak Denglish?

Our favourite Denglish phrases and the correct English form

Hi there!

Last time Yvette and I shared “the 20 business idioms you have to know in business” with you. In case you’ve missed it, check it out here. Our students regularly ask for English equivalents to German idioms or expressions they use on a daily basis. Sometimes they make up word for word translations, which sound hilarious to us but are incorrect. We then tell our students they have just spoken Denglish.

Thank you …

… to all the Denglish speakers out there, because you have put a smile on our faces many times, we’re sharing our favourite Denglish phrases or falsely translated idioms. But first let’s explain what Denglish is, as surely some of you have heard of it but others haven’t encountered it and its regional forms yet. 

What is Denglish?

So, in a nutshell Denglish is used to refer to incorrect English that is influenced by German. The “D“ comes from “Deutsch“ = German and is just added to “English“.  Such words, which are a linguistic blend of words are called portmanteau. If you are interested in learning more about Denglish, check out this article on Wikipedia.

As English language trainers in Germany we have come across very many Denglish expressions, which our students have made up and sounded real and correct to them. Living in Franconia, we have even encountered “Frenglish”. The “Fr“ stands for Franconian, as Franconians tend to have a special German dialect. There are more regional differences. Have you heard of  “Schwenglish”? If not, you can watch a video on Youtube, just type “Schwenglish” into the search bar and you’ll find it. Even though these translated German idioms or expressions are incorrect, we are listing our favourite ones here with the correct English idiom or expression. Please consider this to be a list for reference so that now you finally have the correct English expression in writing. 


Our favourite 30 Denglish expressions



1. Don’t go me on the ghost!

Don’t get on my nerves

2. Sponge over it!

No hard feelings!

3. You lucky mushroom!

Lucky you!

4. You are first cream!

You are top-notch!

5. That’s the jumping point!

That’s the crucial point!

6. I press you the thumbs!

I’ll keep my fingers crossed!

7.  Enjoy your life in full trains!

Enjoy your life to the fullest!

8. Not bad Mr Woodpecker!

Not bad at all!

9.  That’s not the yellow from the egg!

That’s not the greatest thing since sliced bread / exactly brilliant / nothing to write home about / not exactly the bee’s knees

10.  No sugar licking!

No bed of roses / No walk in the park / It’s no picnic

11. Peace, joy, egg cake.

And everybody was happy!

12. You have no idea of tooting and blowing.

You don’t have a clue / the faintest idea.

13. It was all for the cat.

It was all a waste of time.

14. Life is no pony farm.

Life is not all guns and roses.

15. I think my pig is whistling.

Blow me down / I think I’m going off my rocker.


Ready or not for the remaining 15 Denglish idioms, here they come


16. We are sitting in the ink.

We are in the soup.

17. He is washed with all waters.

He knows every trick in the book.

18. Every beginning is heavy.

The first step is always the hardest.

19. With that you have shot the bird.

You’ve taken the biscuit BE/ the cake AE

20. I wish you what!

Have a good one!

21. That doesn’t pull at me.

That won’t wash with me.

22. Throw the shotgun into the grain.

To cut and run / To throw in the towel or sponge.

23. I am at the end of my Latin.

I’m at my wits’ end.

24. I fell from all clouds.

I was taken by complete surprise.

25. Oh you green nine!

Good grief!

26. The devil will I do!

Like hell I will!

27. The wiser gives after.

It’s better to bend than to break.

28. There we have the salad.

We count the cost.

29. He has a corpse in the cellar.

He has a skeleton in the cupboard BE /closet AE

30. Only over my corpse.

Over my dead body.


There you have it, that wraps it up for today


Those are our favourite Denglish phrases and idioms.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our list. What is your favourite one? Let us know in the comments or connect with us on social media like Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Xing and Twitter and let us know there.

For more tips and solutions, which have helped our students face their challenges in communicating successfully in English and getting their point across, sign up to our newsletter here.

Have a wonderful time and take care

Nadia & Yvette

PS If you like what we’ve shared with you and you want to share it, then please do! Have you checked out our podcast yet? You can find it on iTunes and on Spotify. Sign up, so you don’t miss the next episode.

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