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German Expression for English Phrase To Pull Somebodys Leg

The German phrase for the English expression: ‘to pull somebody’s leg, to tease somebody, take the mickey out of somebody’ is ‘jemanden auf den Arm nehmen’. The German expression means literally: ‘to pick somebody up and sit him/her on the arm’.

Quite some weight-lifting that Germans do in this case! 🙂




April Fools’ Day is usually the day when people pull one their friend’s or coworker’s leg. = Der 1. April ist für gewöhnlich der Tag, wenn Leute einen ihrer Freunde oder Mitarbeiter auf den Arm nehmen.

Tom teases the other kids almost every day. So they decided to totally pull his leg.  = Tom hänselt die anderen Kinder fast jeden Tag. Da haben sie entschieden, ihn mal so richtig auf den Arm zu nehmen.


This very metaphorical expression came into fashion around 1850. It means literally to treat an adult like a little child, who you can pick up and carry on your arm. This expression also implies that the person in question is foolish and gullible.

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