German Word of the Day – “die Ausrede”

example for an ausredeHello everyone,

and welcome to our German Word of the Day. This time we will look at the exact meaning of the  word:

die Ausrede (pron.: ous raiduh) 

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.