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Cold enough for hell to freeze over

Discussion in 'Deutsch (German)' started by popotla, Dec 8, 2012.

  1. popotla Senior Member

    British English
    I thought the following sounded OK:

    Der Winter in Hamburg ist kalt, außerordentlich kalt, kalt genug, um die Hölle zu überfrieren.

    In English, this is a not unusual expression, but I was told that in German it isn't said/isn't understood. Is that so? How, then, would the idea be expressed?

    It was cold enough for hell to freeze over.
     
  2. Frank78

    Frank78 Senior Member

    Saxony-Anhalt
    German
    "...um die Hölle zufrieren zu lassen."

    "Überfrieren" means that there's a thin layer of ice and underneath liquid water.
     
  3. popotla Senior Member

    British English
    Thanks. If you read in a story (etc.) that it was kalt genug um die Hölle zufrieren zu lassen, would you or "the average German-speaking reader" easily understand it?
     
  4. Kajjo

    Kajjo Senior Member

    Deutschland (Hamburg)
    German/Germany
    Yes, "die Hölle friert zu" is idiomatic and will be understood easily.

    Alternatively, one could say "die Hölle friert ein". Both with "ein" und "zu" it is idiomatically correct and wide-spread.

    An amusing story in this context: http://tillmister.blogspot.de/2007/07/studienarbeit-kann-die-hlle-zufrieren.html
     
  5. Roy776

    Roy776 Senior Member

    Germany
    German & AmE
    There's also a nice possiblity for a girl to turn you down using this phrase :)
    "Eher friert die Hölle zu als, dass ich mit dir ausgehe."

    So yes, it's idiomatic, and everybody would understand it.

    I've first read this story in Czech and still laugh my *** off every time I read it :D
     
  6. L'irlandais

    L'irlandais Senior Member

    Dreyeckland/Alsace region
    Ireland: English-speaking ♂
  7. Kajjo

    Kajjo Senior Member

    Deutschland (Hamburg)
    German/Germany
    Surely, I reckon it's just a nice story.
     
  8. Roy776

    Roy776 Senior Member

    Germany
    German & AmE
    Definitely. I've seen it in German, English, Polish and Czech already. It wouldn't be translated in so many languages if it were real, I think.
     
  9. L'irlandais

    L'irlandais Senior Member

    Dreyeckland/Alsace region
    Ireland: English-speaking ♂
    Hi Roy,
    My point was that ;
    A renowned scientist (Paul Darwin Foote) wrote the article, as a spoof, in his company's magazine (Taylor Instrument), way back in the 1920's.
    Rather than some bright student during a stressful exam, in the late 1990's.
    Many Urban Legends contain a grain of truth.
     
  10. popotla Senior Member

    British English
    Thanks for comments (OP).
     

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