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German Idioms of Decline

The German language has a colorful variety of idioms for describing when a situation is in decline or when things have gone badly.


If something is "in the bucket" in German, at least it's not as bad as "kicking the bucket" in English!


Wenn Thorsten nicht genommen wird, ist seine Karriere im Eimer.
If Thorsten is not accepted, his career will be in the bucket [idiom, over].
Captions 18-19, Die Pfefferkörner: Eigentor


The less polite version of the above is im Arsch, which for politeness' sake is perhaps best left untranslated.


Whereas something going badly is said to be "going downhill" in English, in German the expression relates to water rather than mountains.


Seit ich wieder angefangen habe, geht unsere Ehe den Bach runter.    
Since I started again, our marriage has been going downstream [idiom, falling apart].
Caption 7, Spielfilm: Mama arbeitet wieder


If things get too bad, maybe it's high time you hightail it out of there!


Sie macht sich aus dem Staub.
She makes herself out of the dust [idiom, absconds].
Caption 45, Alpenseen: Kühle Schönheiten


Further Learning
This extensive listing of German idioms is amusing for the fact that the English translations are all literal and intentionally humorous. Pick out a few whose real meaning is unclear to you and look online to discover what the expressions really express, then search for some examples used in real conversations on Yabla German.


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