German Lessons


Von Kopf bis Fuß , Part II

This lesson is the second part of a series about the noun der Kopf used in idiomatic contexts. Be sure and read Part I if you missed it, but to reiterate the title topic:



Er war von Kopf bis Fuß grün angezogen und klopfte gerade seine Schuhe aus.

He was dressed in green from head to foot [idiom: completely] and was just knocking out his shoes.

Caption 23, Märchen - Sagenhaft - Ein Topf voll Gold

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Sah er stattlich und wohlhabend aus und von Kopf bis Fuß wie ein echter Marquis.

Then he appeared stately and wealthy and from head to foot [idiom: head to toe] like a real Marquis.

Captions 62-63, Märchen - Sagenhaft - Der gestiefelte Kater

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Es schüttet [Umgangssprache, regnet] wie aus Eimern Klitschnass von Kopf bis Fuß

It's raining buckets Drenched from head to foot [head to toe]

Captions 16-17, Die Toten Hosen - Unter den Wolken

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The standard translation of von Kopf bis Fuß is thus the English idiom "from head to toe," meaning "completely." But what does it mean if somebody is said to have some kind of substance in their head other than brains? 


Also, man muss auch einen Pfeil im Kopf haben, um so was zu essen.

Well, you must also have an arrow [rocks] in your head to eat something like that.

Captions 52-54, Currywurst - Berlins schärfstes Stück

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Einen Pfeil im Kopf haben is similar to the English expression "to have rocks in your head," meaning you are either stupid or there is something seriously wrong with you. Similar meaning is found in the expressions Sägemehl im Kopf habenStroh im Kopf haben, and Sülze im Kopf haben, meaning respectively to have sawdust, straw, or jellied meat in your head.


However, the phrase Motten im Kopf haben ("to have moths in your head") means to have crazy or unconventional (but not necessarily just stupid) ideas, and Rosinen im Kopf haben ("to have raisins in your head") means to be thinking overly idealistically, something like "seeing the world through rose-colored glasses."


Ich hab einen dicken Kopf, ich muss einen Saft haben

I have a thick head, I have to drink some juice

Caption 32, Peter Fox - Schwarz zu Blau

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Einen dicken Kopf haben means to be congested, or to have a headache or a hangover. Either way it's not very nice, so let's go out today with an easy one!


„Stadtgeflüster“ trifft den Nagel auf den Kopf.

"City Whisperings" hits the nail on the head.

Caption 26, Frankfurt - Der Friedberger Platz

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Nice to know that some idioms are the same in English and German!


Further Learning
Go to Yabla German and see many other examples of der Kopf used in a wide variety of contexts.

Smack Dab in the Middle

In English, a person can be described as standing in the middle of the sidewalk in the middle of the day, and whether you are talking about place or time, the phrase "in the middle of" is correct. In German, however, there are two expressions: mitten im (or mitten in der for feminine nouns) and mitten am (mitten an der for feminine nouns). In most cases, whether discussing time or place, the phrase mitten im (in der) is used, whether for time of the year:



Vor langer Zeit mitten im eisigsten Winter...

A long time ago in the middle of the iciest winter...

Caption 5, Märchen - Sagenhaft - Schneewittchen

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Or for place: 


Ich finde das eine, ja, auch wichtige Stelle, mitten in der Stadt.

I think it is also a, yes, important place, in the middle of the city.

Captions 25-26, Holocaust-Gedenktag - Gedenkstätte am Michelsberg

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The phrase mitten am (mitten an der) is used less frequently but in very specific contexts. For place, mitten am is used primarily when something is physically located on a place. In the following example, you can see why mitten im would sound wrong, as it would suggest that the kiosk is inside Friedberger Platz rather than on it: 


Neben mir steht der Turan,

Next to me stands Turan,

der Besitzer hier von dem schönen Kiosk mitten am Friedberger Platz.

the owner here of the nice kiosk in the middle of Friedberger Platz.

Captions 1-2, Frankfurt - Der Friedberger Platz

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Generally you wouldn't say mitten am Friedberger Platz anyway, you would simply say auf Friedberger Platz. If the kiosk were located on the edge of the square, you would say an Friedberger Platz.


When used with period of day terms, it is more common to use mitten am than mitten imMitten am Morgen (in the middle of the morning); Mitten am Nachmittag (in the middle of the afternoon); or Mitten am Tag (in the middle of the day, or "in broad daylight"). When discussing nighttime, however, the mitten in der phrase is standardly used: Mitten in der Nacht (in the middle of the night). In general, mitten does not have any influence on the above usage of the prepositions am or in der, as they are also am Morgen and in der Nacht etc. when used without the word mitten.



Further Learning
Look for further examples of mitten im, mitten in der, mitten am, and mitten an der on Yabla German to see these phrases used in a real-world context.

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