German phrase of the day: Beleidigte Leberwurst

If you have a disagreement with someone and they sulk, you might want to consider comparing them to a liver sausage. Sound strange? Our German phrase of the day will reveal all.

German phrase of the day: Beleidigte Leberwurst
Photo: Francesco Ungaro / Unsplash + Nicolas Raymond / flickr

The English language has a fair few food-related expressions. When something is easy, for example, it might be described as “a piece of cake”, and when something isn’t for you, it’s “not my cup of tea”.

These expressions only really make sense in British culture, given the long history of afternoon tea as the quintessential staple of Britishness. Well, just as the British expressions centre around tea and cake, so the German expressions centre around – you guessed it – beer and sausages.

Die beleidigte Leberwurst is one such expression, translating literally to “the offended liver sausage”.

Idiomatically, calling someone a beleidigte Leberwurst indicates that they are a sore loser, or that they’re behaving in a bad-tempered way because they’ve been insulted. It’s not a very fair term, since it implies that the person is sulking unnecessarily over a perceived offence.

In Upper Saxony, the origin of this phrase is explained in a story about a butcher boiling some sausages in a pot. After a few minutes, the butcher removes the sausages that have finished cooking, leaving behind only the liver sausage, which is still slightly raw. Now all alone, and greatly offended by this exclusion, the liver sausage bursts its skin in rage.

Whether or not this is the true origin of the phrase, Germans have been describing each other in relation to livers since the Middle Ages, when it was believed that the liver was the source of our emotions, in particular anger.

Liver sausages

Don’t be an offended liver sausage! Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Friso Gentsch

In an ARD radio broadcast earlier this year Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach appealed to the heads of the federal states not to play the beleidigte Leberwurst when it comes to Covid restrictions, asking the federal states to remember their responsibility to introduce Covid hotspot restrictions if and
when they become necessary.

And the expression was once again used in a prominent way in May 2022. The Ukrainian ambassador to Germany accused Chancellor Olaf Scholz of “playing the Beleidigte Leberwurst (being in a huff)” for saying ‘no’ to a state visit to Kyiv due to the cancellation of President Frank Walter Steinmeier’s trip.

The phrase die beleidigte Leberwurst spielen, is a common way of using the expression. It means “to play the offended liver sausage”, or in other words to play the sore loser.

READ ALSO: Ukraine ambassador accuses Scholz of ‘going in a huff’ over Kyiv trip


„Jetzt darf niemand, ich sag mal, die beleidigte Leberwurst spielen …”

“Now no one is allowed to, shall I say, go in the huff …”

Sei nicht so’ne beleidigte Leberwurst!

Don’t be such a sore loser!

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German word of the day: Lüften

One of the first lessons you learn when living in Germany is that airing out rooms is extremely important.

German word of the day: Lüften

Whether you sublet, rent a flat or own your home in Germany, it’s likely you’ve been told how important it is to lüften, or open your windows and let air in and out regularly. 

Lüften can be a verb or noun in Germany. As a noun it uses the ‘das’ article and stands for ventilation. The verb lüften means to air out something. It comes from the German word die Luft which means air.

The proper airing out of rooms is a very German thing. Hell, it’s a way of life. 

Just check your rent contract. Foreigners in Germany are often surprised to find that ventilating their homes is usually written into their contract and accompanied by instructions. That means it’s literally legally binding! 

There are very important rules to remember, and German even has a set of vocabulary dedicated to getting fresh air safely in and out the room. 

Words like Stoßlüften – which translates to shock or impact ventilation. This is needed at least twice a day (and more in summer) and involves opening the windows or balcony doors wide to let a ‘shock’ of cold air in. According to experts, you should do this for about five minutes a time in winter, 10-15 minutes each time in autumn and spring, and up to half an hour in summer.

Meanwhile, Querlüften or cross ventilation involves opening all the windows of a house or building and letting the fresh air flow through.

The aim of all this lüften is to stop mould from forming, get rid of smells and to stop rooms from getting too humid. The more people that live in your home, the more airing out you’ll have to do. 

Germans recommend that you turn off your heating while airing out your room (to save on money and to protect the climate) – so be sure to have a big jumper on if you’re airing out in winter. 

READ ALSO: Why Germans are obsessed with the art of airing out a room

Lüften took on a whole new meaning in the pandemic as other countries – or at least those that didn’t have the same culture for airing out – began recommending it to people as a way of helping protect against Covid-19 transmission.  

A good German habit

Lüften can quickly become a habit. Whereas before Germany, I was happy to leave a window tilted open for a while to get some fresh air, I’m now obsessed with the proper way to do it. 

I throw open the windows of my flat wide at regular intervals to get that fresh air circulating, even in the dead of winter. When I’m at home in Scotland or on holiday somewhere else, I do the same thing, which can be alarming to people who think you are trying to freeze them.

I find myself feeling pleased when the neighbours across the road from my Berlin flat open their windows or balcony doors wide. It’s like we’re all part of the secret society of fresh air.

There is nothing now that stands between me and Lüften. When I tweeted about this habit, lots of people said they felt a similar way. 

One Twitter user said: “Been telling my family this for years – as they shiver and complain about how cold it is, and my partner and I passive-aggressively follow each other around shutting and reopening windows. Makes for fun times.”

Another said: “My little sister spent an exchange year in Germany before me and when I visited was thoroughly disturbed by her obsessive window opening. A couple years later I was living in Germany and had become a convert, too.”


Hey Karl, Kannst du bitte dein Zimmer lüften?

Hey Karl, can you please air out your room?

In Deutschland muss man die Zimmer richtig lüften.

You really have to air out rooms the right way in Germany.