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Fun German Expression for the Phrase to Get into Trouble

The English phrase: ‘to get into trouble, to get into hot water or to to put oneself in a spot’ has a fun expression in German: ‘sich in die Nesseln setzen’. This means literally: to sit down in stinging nettles. It’s used when you get yourself into a troublesome, bad situation.

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Examples:

I probably get into hot water when I tell the entire truth, but so what. = Ich setze mich wahrscheinlich in die Nesseln, wenn ich die ganze Wahrheit sage, aber egal.

Tom told the teacher that it was him who had hit the little boy and not Johnny. Tom didn’t want Johnny to get into hot water because of his strict parents. = Tom sagte dem Lehrer, dass er es gewesen war, der den Jungen geschlagen hatte und nicht Johnny. Tom wollte nicht, dass Johnny sich wegen seiner strengen Eltern in die Nesseln setzte.

The girl didn’t want to tell her mom that she had broken the cup. She was afraid to get into trouble. = Das Mädchen wollte ihrer Mama nicht erzählen, dass sie die Tasse zerbrochen hatte. Sie hatte Angst, dass sie sich in die Nesseln setzt.

History of the German Expression:

There isn’t any source that clearly explains where this expression really came from. But the literal meaning explains pretty well what actually happens. When you sit down in stinging nettles, they sting pretty good and you can feel the pain for a while. 🙂

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