and welcome to our German Word of the Day. This time we will look at the exact meaning of the word:
Die Ausrede apparently comes from the verb ausreden. This consists of the basic word reden which is to talk or speak and the prefix aus which translates to out, off or from. In case of ausreden it is out so translating literally we wind up with “speak out”. But this is a bit confusing. Ausreden is what you want to do if you ask the listener to hear you out… So he or she hears you out while you “speak out”. If you are arguing with your partner and you’re being interrupted all the time you can say this:
- Lass mich bitte ausreden!
- Let me finish please.
Anyways back to Ausrede.
“So Ausrede is the noun for that right ? Like… the action of speaking till you’ve finished? “
No it’s not.
“But something like that right?”
No, not at all. Ausrede has totally changed its meaning.
“So it’s like the whole article so far was kinda off the point.”
I afraid so.
“OK, so … why did you write it then?”
Well, actually I … uhm… I had crafted like this REALLY funny, clever and yet thought provoking introduction, but then … uhm… look I … I know it sounds stupid but my dog ate it.
“Wait your dog ate it… like … you pre-write this on paper or something?”
Yeah … uhm … on paper… yeah that’s exactly what I do.
“And what kept you from just writing it again?”
Oh… uhm… yeah see it’s like.. the humor was strongly dependent on the intonation and face-expressions and I can’t do that again the way I…
“Oh hush, that is the stupidest, most ill thought out excuse I have ever heard. You better get to the point with that Ausrede-thing without wasting anymore time or I will so hit the back-button of my browser.”
And there we are… When you look up Ausrede in the dictionary you will get excuse as a translation. But that is really imprecise right there. Excuse translates to the German words Entschuldigung and Ausrede and they are NOT the same thing. Thomas and Maria have been dating for a year now and they want to celebrate this with a diner at a fancy 3 star restaurant and hot steaming… tea at home. At 11 pm Thomas comes home slightly drunk after having spent the night with his buddies in a bar. Let’s see what he has to say.
- Sorry my dear, I forgot to tell you but … I have amnesia. Here is the written confirmation of my doctor.
That is an Entschuldigung.
- I had some project at work that just HAD to be finished and I couldn’t call because crazily everyones phone died at the same time and our land-line wouldn’t work and the phone booth outside was out of order.
That is an Ausrede, and bad one at that. An Entschuldigung is a legitimate excuse that objectively justifies and explains whatever has to be excused. An Ausrede is economy class excuse so to speak. And it has the notion of being made up. Kids come up with it to explain why they don’t have their homework and Boyfriends come up with it to convince their girlfriends that they really shouldn’t go to that certain ballet.
An Ausrede is not automatically a lie. All the reasons for not watching the ballet might be true. They just don’t really fit the bill. They’re reasons but not good, convincing reasons.
- Thomas sucht nach einer Ausrede um nicht ins Theater zu gehen.
- Thomas is searching an excuse to not go to the theater.
If he had an Entschuldigung there wouldn’t be need for searching. You do or do not have an Entschuldigung, an Ausrede you can find or invent.
If an Ausrede is really a straight up lie, you can call it foul. If it is actually pretty believable you can call it gut.
- Kopfschmerzen?! Das ist doch eine faule Ausrede…
- Headache?! Now that’s a lame excuse, ain’t it?
- Ich habe meine Präsentation nicht gemacht , aber ich hatte eine gute Ausrede.
- I didn’t do my presentation but I had a good excuse.
One thing is important. Whenever you want to excuse yourself, you ought to claim to have an Entschuldigung.
- Ich weiß, ich bin zu spät, aber ich habe eine gute Ausrede.
- I know I am too late but I have a good excuse.
You MUST NEVER say that to your boss. Literally it says excuse but it sounds like lame excuse. It is good for you that you have a good Ausrede but the moment you admit that it is one to your boss, it won’t excuse anything anymore. What you want to have for him is an Entschuldigung.
There is not much need for more examples and I think you get the difference between Ausrede and Entschuldigung. All we need to do now is have a quick look at the grammar. What’s that, you have an “appointment” now ? Oh come on please… it won’t take long.
Ausrede is female and the plural is die Ausreden. What does that mean for the case 3 plural n … right… get welfare. There is also a verb connected to this : sich herausreden aus. This means to talk oneself out of something by using an Ausrede.
- Ich habe gesehen, wie du meinen Yogurt genommen hast. Du kannst dich da nicht herausreden.
- I have seen you taking my yogurt. You can’t talk you way out of that one.
So this was our German Word of the Day die Ausrede. It is an excuse isn’t really convincing and maybe made up. If you have any questions or suggestions, drop me a comment. I hope you liked it and see you next time.
Guys, Thanks for donating money and letting us have access to Manuel’s great lessons ….
Das ist doch eine faule Ausrede…hmm in terms of emphasis, does the speaker stress the doch or the faule? Das ist DOCH eine faule Ausrede oder Das ist doch eine FAULE ausrede?
The normal stress is on “Ausrede”. If you stress “faul” then you’re kind of implying that there are “non-faul” Ausreden which is not really true. A bit like stressing the “white” in “white lie”.
If you stress “doch” then you’re basically saying that whatever it is you’re talking about did turn out to be a faule Ausrede, after you initially thought (and stated) it wasn’t.
Does that help?
Hi Emanuel, do you also use ausreden when you want to talk somebody out of something (jmd etw ausreden)?
Yes, that’s a meaning too. Thanks for bringing that up (the article is quite old and I wasn’t as thorough back then).
Here’s an example, since the grammar is quite different than in the English phrase
– Ich habe versucht, meinem Bruder (Dat) den Plan (Akk) auszureden.
– I tried talking my brother out of it (the plan)
Hallo! Ich weiss, dass dein Fokus in diesem Post nicht das Verb war, sondern das Substantiv, aber wäre es nicht möglich, ausreden als dissuade oder discourage zu benützen? Gäbte es ein entsprechendes Substantiv?
(Ich habe deine Seite kürzlich entdecket, und jetzt versuche ich, alle alte Posten zu lesen! Grüssen von Brasilien!)
Ja, du hast recht. Es gibt eine Verwendung in der Art.
– Thomas versucht Maria, den Plan auszureden.
– Thomas tries to talk Maria out of the plan.
Ist gar nicht mal so selten. Danke für den Hinweis :). Grüße zurück aus Berlin
Ach, hab’ das Substantive vergessen… da gibt es soweit ich weiß keins. “Die Ausrede” passt nicht, und “Ausredung” gibt es nicht.
Hallo und vielen Dank für diesen wunderschönen Artikel! Der ist interessant und ich finde ihn auch sehr nützlich. Ich habe jedoch eine Frage: Wenn ich an einen Freund schreibe und möchte sagen, zum Beispiel, “Sorry for the late reply, things have been hectic – but I don’t want to make excuses,” sollte ich “aber ich will mich nicht entschuldigen” schreiben, oder “ich will mich nicht herausreden”?
Danke nochmals für die Hilfe :)
Gute Frage… ich glaube, ich würde das zweite nehmen, also
– Ich will mich nicht rausreden.
Obwohl du ja in dem Beispiel eine echte Entschuldiging hast. Die Version mit “entschuldigen” klingt einfach ein bisschen zu sehr nach
– I don’t want to say sorry.
Ich habe irgendie das Gefühl, dass es noch was anderes gibt, aber ich komm’ nicht drauf :)
In diesem Zusammenhang könnte man auch sagen : * Aber da möchte ich auch nicht Ausflüchte machen*. Klingt es richtig für dich, Manuel?
Hmmm, jein. Auf jeden Fall “keine Ausflüchte” statt “nicht Ausflüchte”… aber das ist so ein typischer Fall, wo Lerner Synonyme verwenden, weil sie denken es ist besser, aber in Wirklichkeit klingt es nicht natürlich. Fast niemand benutzt diese Formulierung im täglichen Leben.
Du hast einen kleinen Fehler ;-)
“Thomas searching an excuse to not go to the theater.” doesn’t sound like a sentence. I see that it is almost a direct translation of the German version, but the English needs to be something like “Thomas is searching for an excuse to not go to the theater.” Or even “Thomas searches for an excuse to not go to the theater.”
Again, Du wusstest das wahrscheinlich schon, aber es fällt auf.
Oh danke :).
Du hast im letzten Beispiel geschrieben:
“Ich habe gesehen, wie du meinen Yogurt genommen hast. Du kannst dich da nicht herausreden.”
Aber du hast auch gesagt, dass das Verb ‘sich herausreden aus’ ist, muss man ‘daraus’ statt ‘da’ schreiben?
Danke im voraus.
Sehr gute Frage… wenn das ok ist, dann nehme ich die für den nächsten QAS-Post :). Tip: es hat was mit “da” zu tun.
Hi. First of all, I want to say that your blog is both educative and interesting, let alone very helpful. But there is one thing in this post that bugs me, and it is actually related to your English translation – you say:
Ich habe gesehen, wie du meinen Yogurt genommen hast. Du kannst dich nicht herausreden.
I have seen you taking my yogurt. You can’t talk yourself out of that.
Isn’t “talking someone out of something” persuading that person in NOT doing something what he or she has planned to? As opposite of “talking someone into something”. If so, your translation is kinda confusing (or my English is the problem :)))) since I can’t see how could someone talk oneself out of something he or she already did (took yoghurt in your example) . In my native tongue (Serbian) we have quite literal translation of that idiom, so that also can be the source of my confusion (to talk out = ODGOVORITI (OD-prepostition + GOVORITI (to talk, infinitive)); to talk into = NAGOVORITI – both of them being quite far from the meaning of “herausreden” as you described it).
My guess is that you had the phrase “to talk out” (without OF) in mind, as in “discuss something”. Therefore maybe better translation would be:
I have seen you taking my yoghurt. You can talk it (the fact you’ve been caught in the act) out (by giving me the lame excuses). That, at least for me, sounds more logical and related to “ausreden”.
Or I am being just plain wrong since nor English nor German aren’t my first language.
Anyway, keep up the excellent work :)
you’re totally right. “Talk someone out of something ” is not what I mean. I meant
You can’t talk your way out of that (one).
meaning that you can’t “excuse” yourself as in give an acceptable reason.
Thanks for spotting that and thanks for your nice Feedback too :D
One nice trivia, I came up with after thinking about this topic afterwards – word for excuse in Serbian is OPRAVDANJE, but also IZGOVOR (noun) – latter being derived from the verb to talk, similar as in German “ausreden” from “reden” or in English with “to talk out of” from “to talk”. But you cannot make a verb out of it with the meaning similar to ausrede, because that seat is already taken: verb IZGOVORITI means to say, or more precise to pronounce. Therefore herausreden must be transleted in more descriptive way, for example “You cannot make up some lame excuse”. Obviously German knows a lot about language economy :)
On the other hand I’ve noticed in my 4 months learning experience that you just love making already short words even shorter by merging it (beim, zum, ins), and at the same time having nouns like Lebensmittelfachmarkt, Einwohnermaldeamt and alike (on the third hand I find them easier to memorize (probably because they are so different from what I’m used to), than, let’s say trotz and trotzdem whose meaning I’m still mixnig). But at the end It’s all so funny and I really enjoy learning it :)
” Obviously German knows a lot about language economy :)”… haha, German is quite inventive with the prefixes and you can say a lot with that. It is just a coincidence though that “herausreden” means what it means in German. It would make just as much sense if it meant the same as the Serbian word.
In other regards German is not economical at all. Just think of all the da-words in things like
Ich denke daran, dass…
The “daran” is pure grammar. There is no content and many languages do not have that. And then English… oh my god, English. Now THAT is an economical language… just think of all the freedom they have when it comes to whether a verb takes an object or not. In German, if it does, then it usually… well… does. In English most of the time with and without are possible. And don’t get me started on all those participle constructions
Sitting on the bench the man fell asleep..
German would need you to spell it out in all boringness
Während er auf der Bank saß, schlief er ein.
The German version of English novels is usually 1/4 longer and it is among other things because of that.
The compounds… yeah… they are handy :). But I secretly think, English has those too… I mean
The soap dispenser is empty.
Just because there is a space in between doesn’t make it any different.
The dispenser of soap …
That would not be a compound but writing three nouns in a row with a space only to form one entity… well… just saying :).
As for “trotz” and “trotzdem”… maybe it helps to think of it this way.
Trotz dem Wetter bleibe ich zu Hause.
Gutes Wetter. Trotzdem bleibe ich zu Hause.
“trotz” is just “despite”, “trotzdem” is a compounded “despite that”. Sure there is a difference in case used but essentially this is where “trotzdem” comes from.
Thanks Emanuel for your awesome work.
Ich habe keine Ausrede mehr, Deutsch nicht zu lernen! ;-)
Anyway, this is in reference to the nice mention by Igor.
So, how do I say ‘talk someone into doing something’ or talk someone out of something
They both sound a bit colloquial to me in English, so can I use überzeugen or überreden?
(But I am not native English speaker, so maybe I am wrong!)
BTW, dict.cc mentions ausreden in the meaning for ‘to persuade sb. into doing something’!!
And, how do I talk my dog out of his eating behavior. His eating my homework, for example! And I do not know if that is an excuse, but his unconditional love makes me forget whatever he eats. (Just kidding!)
That Dict.cc translation makes no sense to me. As for talking someone into doing something…. “überreden” is absolutely perfect. And for the dog… you wouldn’t use any talking verb in that context. Unless your dog is self aware and can understand speech, like my cat :)
Das habe ich nicht gewusst. Vielen Dank.
Eine gute Übersetzung für Ausrede wäre auch: “pretext”.
It actually is true. Thanks a lot for that… until now, I though pretext to be something differennt.. to be precise, I didn’t know that it had this negative made up notion to it.
I did check on Linguee.com after you posted, and most of the time the German word “Vorwand” is used…
Now the difference between Ausrede and Vorwand is not that easy but I think this captures it:
“Ausrede” – (made up ) excuse
“Vorwand” – made up reason