German phrase of the day: Ach du liebe Zeit!

Tom Ashton-Davies
Tom Ashton-Davies - [email protected]
German phrase of the day: Ach du liebe Zeit!
Photo credit: Francesco Ungaro / Unsplash + Nicolas Raymond / flickr

If you're surprised about something, this is a timely German expression to know.


What does it mean?

‘Ach, du liebe Zeit’ (which can be written with or without the comma) is a colloquial expression widely used in German-speaking communities.

It can be roughly translated to ‘oh my goodness’ or ‘good heavens’ in English. 

‘Ach, du liebe Zeit’ can be used without the interjection ‘ach’, but this implies there is a lesser sense of surprise or astonishment.

Other similar phrases you might encounter include ‘ach du grüne Neune', ' Ach du Schande’, ‘Gute Güte’, or ‘ach, du meine Güte’. 

How is it used?

The phrase is commonly used to express surprise, shock or exasperation, sometimes in a lighthearted or sarcastic manner. 

It can also actually be used in regards to the time, for example when you’re supposed to meet a friend at 6 pm, and realise it’s already 5:55.

READ ALSO: 15 timely phrases that prove Germans are all about punctuality

It can be employed in response to surprising news, improbable events, or unexpected developments.

Depending on the context and tone of the conversation, it can also be used for gentle teasing or playful mockery.   



Ach, du liebe Zeit! Du hast im Lotto gewonnen? Das ist unglaublich! 

Oh my goodness! You won the lottery? That’s unbelievable! 

Ach, du liebe Zeit, was für einen Tag. Mein Auto ist kaputt gegangen und dann hat es angefangen zu regnen. 

Oh my gosh, what a day. My car broke down and then it started to rain. 

Ach, du liebe Zeit, du hast den Mount Everest bestiegen? Das kann ich kaum glauben! 

Oh my goodness, you climbed Mount Everest? I can hardly believe it! 

Ach, du liebe Zeit! Hast du gesehen, wer gerade hereingekommen ist? 

Good heavens. Did you see who just came in?

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