German phrase of the day: über Gott und die Welt reden

German phrase of the day: über Gott und die Welt reden
Friends 'chewing the fat' in Berlin recently. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Kira Hofmann
Sometimes you leave a conversation unable to pinpoint exactly what just went on. This German phrase is shorthand for those rambling, spiralling chats that seem to have no real centre. 

When you meet up with a friend and seem to talk for hours about almost every topic under the sun, you would say you’ve been speaking über Gott und die Welt. This German phrase literally translates as to speak about ‘God and the world’ and means to talk endlessly about a range of seemingly unrelated ideas. 

The equivalent sayings for this idea in English would be ‘to chew the fat’ or to chat about ‘anything and everything’. These sprawling discussions often happen with good friends, perhaps those you haven’t seen for a while and are catching up with. When you are comfortable with another person, often there is no need for the conversation to have a specific purpose, so you can let it drift wherever seems natural.

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The majority of people in Germany still identify as religious, and so Gott und die Welt encompasses practically everything that is important in life.

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Although you might think this phrase suggests your conversation needs to be full of philosophical ponderings, you don’t actually need to be talking about religion and all the problems of the world in order to have a chat über Gott und die Welt. It really just refers to the idea of jumping easily between topics and themes, often with no real connection. 

Germans are not the biggest fans of small talk, so you are fairly likely to launch into a lengthy and meandering conversation with the people you meet here, rather than just sticking to the weather and what you ate for lunch. Although the topics of Gott und die Welt in this idiom are fairly lofty, the themes of your conversation can be as lowbrow as you like.

READ ALSO: ‘They don’t do small talk’: Why foreigners in Germany find it hard to make friends

Examples:           

Wir haben uns am Strand hingelegt, und über Gott und die Welt geredet. 

We lay on the beach and talked about everything under the sun. 

Meine Mutter und ich haben stundenlang über Gott und die Welt geredet.

My mum and I spent hours chatting about everything and everything. 


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  1. It probably varied from region to region, but growing up in Derbyshire we used to say “Anything and everything” rather than “everything and everything”

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