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LEARNING GERMAN

German word of the day: Die Übergangsjacke

Today’s word of the day is a two in one package: A very German word, as well as a very German concept.

German word of the day: Die Übergangsjacke
A woman in Munich with a good fleece Übergangsjacke. Photo: DPA

Die Übergangsjacke translates literally to “transition jacket.” If you want to make sense of that though, it’s easier to have a look at another translation: In-between-seasons jacket.

Yes, you read right. The German language has a one-word translation for that monster.  

The concept of the Übergangsjacke is very efficient, so let’s explain it with an example: The seasons are about to change from, let’s say, winter to spring. Now that means it’s still cold outside, but not freezing.

The sun could come out, but there might also be some rain or even snow. That could mean that a big winter coat is too warm, a jean jacket is not watertight enough, and a raincoat too sweaty.

So what you would need would be a jacket that is watertight as well as breathable, that can keep you warm but doesn’t make you sweat. And this miracle jacket is the Übergangsjacke.

There are other forms of Übergangsjacken as well, for example for the transition from autumn to winter and even from spring to summer (although that Übergangsjacke might just be a jean jacket – depends on where you live.)

But if the seasons don’t live up to their full potential and the winter feels more like spring, your Übergangsjacke can become a regular winter coat quite quickly. As you can see, it’s a flexible concept with loads of uses.

Examples

Mein Wintermantel ist zu dick, ich brauche dringend eine Übergangsjacke.

My winter coat is too thick; I need an in-between-seasons jacket urgently.

Hier sehen Sie eine leichte Übergangsjacke für Damen.

Here you can see a light in-between-seasons jacket for ladies.

Do you have a favourite word you'd like to see us cover? If so, please email our editor Rachel Stern with your suggestion.

 

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GERMAN WORD OF THE DAY

German phrase of the day: Etwas aus dem Ärmel schütteln

Anyone who has ever had to come up with a great idea on the fly can probably relate to this German phrase.

German phrase of the day: Etwas aus dem Ärmel schütteln

Why do I need to know ‘etwas aus dem Ärmel schütteln’? 

Because this versatile phrase can come in handy in a range of situations, from having pulled off a great presentation at short notice to coming up with a spontaneous solution to a problem. 

What does it mean?

Etwas aus dem Ärmel schütteln is similar to the English phrase “to pull something out of a hat” or “to have something up your sleeve”. Literally, the German phrase means to shake something out of your sleeve, but in a figurative sense it describes coming up with a bright idea or pulling something off without planning or effort. 

Generally, shaking something out of your sleeve is what’s required when you’re faced with a tricky situation and you need to quickly think up a solution. It might be that you have to stand in for a colleague in an important meeting at short notice, or rustle up a meal from the scraps in your cupboard after forgetting that supermarkets are closed on Sunday. 

READ ALSO: German phrase of the day: Ich glaub’ mein Schwein pfeift

In a similar sleeve-related vein, the English phrase “off the cuff” shares the same sense of executing a difficult task spontaneously. 

So, why are sleeves so important for getting out of a sticky situation? Well, there are a few theories about that.

The first relates to a cheat in card games: if you’re dealt a bad hand, you can always improve your chances by pulling out a few better cards that may have found their way into your sleeve earlier on. 

Another theory dates back to the times when people would wear long robes or other garments with wide sleeves. This would allow people not only to warm their hands, but also to store small objects they may need up their sleeves, to be “shaken out” when the time was right. 

Use it like this: 

Was kann er jeztz aus dem Ärmel shütteln? 

What has he got up his sleeve now? 

Wenn Marina denkt, den Abschluss aus dem Ärmel schütteln zu können, dann hat sie sich aber gründlich vertan.

If Marina thinks she can just pull the degree out of her sleeve, then she is very much mistaken.

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