German Word of the Day: Die Torschlusspanik

Not as far along in your careers as you’d like to be? Stressed because all your friends are getting married but you don’t have a partner yet? Anxious you’ll never achieve your life goals? You might be suffering from Torschlusspanik.

German Word of the Day: Die Torschlusspanik

Torschlusspanik describes the anxiety induced by the feeling that time is running out for you to act. It literally means ‘gate closing panic’, and particularly refers to people as they age, who worry that they have to take the opportunity now, in case they never get the chance again.

The term stems from the Middle Ages, when citizens would run back into the city gates just before they closed at night; otherwise they would be left vulnerable outside in the cold.

Torschlusspanik is the trigger for many people to give up their nice jobs to travel the world, and for people to leave their partners and run away with someone younger. Sometimes the feeling can be a catalyst for good, but other times it can provoke us to make rash and unwise choices.

SEE ALSO: 9 words that perfectly sum up being in your 30s


Sie will künstliche Befruchtung probieren, weil sie an Torschlusspanik leidet.

She wants to try IVF because she worries that her biological clock is ticking.

Du bist zu jung, solche eine Torschlusspanik um deine Karriere zu haben.

You’re too young to feel like time is running out on your career.

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German phrase of the day: Lügen haben kurze Beine

This phrase tells you why you should try not to lie.

German phrase of the day: Lügen haben kurze Beine

Why do I need to know Lügen haben kurze Beine?

From the serpent in the Bible to the spectacular fall of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson (see the Spiegel cover below with the title ‘one lie too many’), lying has always been morally and socially unacceptable.

Yet everyone lies. Anyone who says otherwise is probably telling fibs. Past research has suggested people lie once or twice per day on average. So, the Germans have found a unique way of tackling lies with this proverb.

What does it mean?

Lügen haben kurze Beine (which sounds like this) literally translates to ‘lies have short legs’. In English you might say: ‘the truth will out’ or ‘lies won’t get you far’.

This proverb was reportedly first found in a German dictionary as early as 1663. As you might expect, this saying is based on the idea that someone with shorter legs can’t run super fast – the metaphor being that a lie won’t escape, it will be found out.

The moral of the story is that honesty is the best policy because nothing can run away from the truth. This symbolic proverb is taught to many German children by their parents. 

But what about white lies? In German, they are pleasingly called Notlüge (emergency lies) and we all know that sometimes not telling the whole truth is appropriate or needed in certain social situations. We’ll look at this in more detail in a future word of the day. 

Use it like this:

Irgendwann wird er mein Geheimnis entdecken, denn Lügen haben kurze Beine.

At some point he will discover my secret, because the truth will out. 

Lügen haben kurze Beine, vor allem im Internet.

Lies can’t get far, especially on the internet.

Ich rate Ihnen, heute die Wahrheit zu sagen. Lügen haben kurze Beine.

I advise you to tell the truth today. Lies won’t travel far.