"Ich schlief wie ein Bär."

Translation:I slept like a bear.

October 7, 2016



wie ein Bär schlafen (fam) = to sleep like a log

schlafen wie ein Murmeltier or Bär or Sack or Stein or eine Ratte = to sleep like a log

This information is from the dictionaries: http://dictionary.reverso.net/german-english/schlafen


As a native English speaker, I will add that some other ways to say this in English include:

to sleep like a baby,

to sleep like the dead,

to sleep very soundly.

May 1, 2017


The funny thing is, in my experience (4x), a baby's sleep is often short/fitful, and ends with it waking up crying, hungry, and with a soiled or wet diaper.

Who really wants a sleep like that?

October 2, 2017


Is this a common metaphor in German and/or English? Neither are my native language so I wouldn't know?

October 7, 2016


I think "like a log" or "wie ein Stein" is more usual. For animals I would use "Murmeltier" (groundhog) in German. "Wie ein Bär" is not so common. And I don't really know how to interpret it. Is the person snoring a lot or really angry if awakened or just in a really deep sleep.

I hope I could be of help.

PS: A common metaphor for bears is "der Bärenhunger" (hungry like a bear) in German. Then there is "jemanden einen Bären aufbinden" = "to get somebody to believe a falsehood". "Bären" are seen as very strong, big and a bit clumsy or slow if you want to use them in a metaphor.

October 7, 2016

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I'm guessing it's supposed to refer to deep, long sleep (analogy to hibernation). But I agree, wie ein Stein would be more common. Or like in English wie ein Baby.

October 8, 2016


Hi, person243

Cool phrase.

Context Reverso translates einen Bären aufbinden as

  • fooling us

  • pulling the wool over our eyes

  • selling us snake oil

... but how does the German work? Unbinding a bear????


March 26, 2017

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I hope you don’t mind if I answer :)

jm. einen Bären aufbinden literally means “to tie a bear on sb[’s back]*. The origin of this phrase is not entirely clear. There are a few different folk etymologies, for example the fact that everybody would notice if somebody tied a bear on their back, so trying to do so means taking the other person for a fool. Or a legend which involves a few hunters trying to use a living bear as deposit when not being able to pay at an inn.

But – at least according to the wiktionary – it is more likely that Bär originally wasn’t the animal at all, but some form of the root *bar- “burden” (cf. the verb “to bear” in English). But over time the original word fell out of use. People didn’t know what the word in the saying meant anymore and reinterpreted it as the closest thing they knew: Bär.

I hope that helps.

March 28, 2017


Mind? Of course not!

How interesting. So, whether it's a burden or a bear - the teller is attaching something unwanted to the listener, and making a very visible fool of them in the process. Very cool. Thank you!

We have lots of examples where the meaning has changed .... think, think ....

OK. This looks like foul language, but actually isn't:

It's cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey.

Sounds like testicles, and I'm sure most English people think it IS about that.

However, a brass monkey was apparently used to store cannonballs on fighting ships, stop them rolling around. Brass is very heat-sensitive, so, if it got very cold, the brass contracted and the balls fell off.

That's what I was told. Se non è vero, è ben trovato!


March 28, 2017

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Yeah, folk etymology can be quite amusing at times^^ And sometimes it can lead to quite productive new patterns, too.

For example: Once upon a time, there was the Italian verb miniare “to illuminate”. As it happened, people during the Middle ages enjoyed decorating manuscripts with small illustrations, often in gold. Since they were so bright, these illustrations became known as miniatura “illuminated one”. The word later shifted to mean small art in general and was borrowed into English as miniature. However it so happened that English had also borrowed minimal from Latin minimus “smallest”, and since both words started with mini- and had to do with small things, people started to think that they were connected. So when in the 1960’s a short kind of shirt came into fashion, somebody started calling them miniskirt, kicking off the evolution of the previously non existant prefix mini- into one of the most productive ones English has today :)

March 28, 2017


It's so beautiful it deserves to be true https://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2015/07/07/video-origin-brass-monkey/ :)

(Refering to the brass monkey)

March 23, 2018


Interesting! I bet the grammar police went crackers when it first happened. Spluttering into their Coopers Oxford Marmalade. :)

March 28, 2017


Very interesting. In Hindi an idiom goes "richhdi ke pair pakadna". That is, to hold a (female) bear's feet! It's used to indicate a situation where holding on, as well as letting go is more or less equally difficult/dangerous

August 2, 2019


I would have thought that on the Indian sub-continent that "have a tiger by the tail" would be the default idiom for that situation.

August 3, 2019


"Ich schlief wie ein Murmeltier." Ich liebe es.

March 11, 2018


It's very common where I'm from in America!

January 21, 2017

[deactivated user]

    I'm a native English speaker and "I slept like a bear" is a very common metaphor where I live (eastern Canada).

    December 15, 2017


    I lived a bit in Germany (munich) and I don't think I heard the preterite... at all. I wonder if this is a regional thing? If not, would this be a situation when one should you preterite over perfect tense?

    May 23, 2017

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    You’re right, preterite is rather rare colloquially. We do use it for a few common verbs which tend to form compound predicates with other verbs (particularly sein, haben and modal verbs like können, wollen etc.). But for the vast majority of verbs, perfect is much more common.

    May 25, 2017


    Thanks for the answer. Now that you mention it, yes, now I remember "Ich war...", "Ich hatte..." were pretty common.

    But what would you say if you just woke up and someone asks you "Gut geschlafen" ? Would you say (I changed a bit the duolingo sentence based on other users comments): a) Ich habe wie ein Stein geschlafen b) Ich schlief wie ein Stein

    and would it be odd if someone used the alternative?

    May 26, 2017

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    Yes, I would always say say “ich habe gut geschlafen”.

    Although I strongly suspect there to be another reason for this besides colloquial-formal distinction: The merger between preterite (imperfect) and perfect is lopsided, meaning you can substitute perfect for the imperfect but not the other way around. Or in other words, if you’re talking about an uncompleted action you can use either of the two, but if the action is completed/you’re focusing on the result, then you can only use perfect, even in formal situations. So “Ich schlief” would unambiguously imperfect to me; “Ich schlief gut” sounds like I’m describing the situation where I’m still sleeping rather than “I’m fresh and well rested now”. For the same reason, verbs like sterben, ankommen etc. which imply their own result are relatively rare in preterite. You will see sentences like “er starb” in narrative writing, just like you will find “he died” in an English novel. And very occasionally you might even see it in a context where it’s definitely perfective, but that’s almost certainly going to be hypercorrection (because we are taught in school that the two are exactly the same except for the style, which I feel isn’t quite true). But for the most part you will encounter it in perfective, regardless of stylistic layer. At least where I come from it’s like this.

    May 28, 2017


    Ich schlief wie ein Bär - im Wald.

    May 14, 2018
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