The meaning of “von wegen”

“Get outta here”

Ho ho ho,

German Advent Calendar day four
and behind this door,
is a really great addition for your combat deck. A card you can use if someone just played a BS card and you want to dis-spell it. Behold… the von wegen card.

Yes, you read that right… the colloquial booster of von wegen really is 100. Use it at the right time and you will sound so native, Merkel herself will give you a German passport right away.

But seriously…. von wegen looks like just two prepositions slapped together but it is really common, snappy “turn over negation”.
Something is stated as a fact but then you turn it around. A bit like   “Pshhhh get out of here.” but the usage is a bit different/more open.
But let’s just look at it in action.

  • “Thomas sagt, er hat aufgeräumt.”
    “Ja, ja… von wegen. Kurz mal über den Tisch gewischt – das war alles.”
  • “Thomas says he did tidy up.”
    “Yeah, yeah… the hell he did. A quick wipe over the table, that was it.”

  • Ich dachte, Maria kann kochen, aber von wegen.
  • I though Maria can cook but hell noooo/my ass.

And now the big question is of course why. Why does it mean that.
Like… von means from or of and wegen means because of. How does “from because of” take on the idea of hell no.
Well, the key lies in the word wegen. Because wegen comes directly from the word der Weg, the way.
The meaning because of is evolved as a variation of the idea by way of. And the phrase von wegen makes perfect sense once we think of it as “off ways”. Like of track.
So yeah… it looks like a random combo of prepositions that German pulled out of its ass but von wegen ;).
Let’s just look at a couple more examples.

  • Alle hatten gehofft, dass es diesmal ein Weihnachtsabend ohne Streit werden würde. Aber von wegen. Um 7 flog Geschirr. Um 9 wurde die Wohnung von der Bereitschaftspolizei geräumt.
  • Everyone had hoped that this time would be a Christmas Eve without arguments. But dead wrong.
    At 7 pm, dishes were flying. At 9 pm, the apartment was cleared by riot police.

  • Von wegen “dumm wie Brot”. Neue Tests zeigen, Brot ist intelligenter als wir denken.
  • Dumb like bread is wrong. New tests show that bread is more intelligent than we think.
    (“Dumb like bread” is a German idiom for “very dumb”, but yeah…  this article suggests otherwise)

As you can see in these examples, you can even find it in writing that has a colloquial tone. So yeah… von wegen is great and you MUST add it to your active vocab because… there’s plenty of BS to disspell ;).
That’s it for today. If you have questions about how to use von wegen or if you want to try out an example yourself just leave me a comment.
Have a great day and bis morgen.

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TonyM
TonyM
2 years ago

I posted a question in german.stackexchange.com asking about “von wegen” but was unsatisfied with the results. Then I remembered something Emanuel had suggested about how to use google to search his site, like this:

von wegen site:yourdailygerman.com

and sure enough this page came up as the 2nd hit. It was exactly what I was looking for. Thanks! You can check out how I answered my own question here if you like: https://german.stackexchange.com/questions/54650/how-to-understand-von-wegen-meaning/54661#54661

berlingrabers
berlingrabers
3 years ago

So this is a year late (and there’s another “wegen” post in this year’s edition), but I’ve run into a different use of “von wegen” recently – so far I’ve only heard it from one couple I know, who (I think) are both from up in NRW somewhere.

They use it to introduce the content of something somebody said or wrote, the way you might use “something about…” or “to the effect that…” in English.

– Ich habe eine Mail von Thomas bekommen von wegen er und Maria wollen ein Tierheim für verwaiste Einhornkinder bauen.

I think that’s kind of how the phrasing is used. If I recall it right, they often use it to connect Hauptsätze, rather than form a Nebensatz, but maybe sometimes it works like a normal subordinating conjunction. Is that a regional/dialect thing?

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
4 years ago

What a great expression to use – and so simple. btw the “my eye” in English is a shortened version of an older saying. If something was so not true you’d say it was “All my eye and Betty Martin” and no I have no idea who Betty Martin was!

sierra
sierra
4 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

I found “All my eye and Betty Martin” discussed on a site called “world wide words” by a British author. Fascinating read if you are nerdy enough. The author stopped updating the site this past year, but there are 3K articles on the site for reading pleasure. In summary the site states there MAY be a link to some old latin prayer, (phrase Ora pro nobis beate Martine (“Pray for us, blessed Martin”) in a prayer for intercession in a French book of hours of about 1500 in the Royal Library in Copenhagen), there MAY have been a Grace Martin who later became a Betty Martin, but basically no one knows for sure. It was a popular saying int he 1800’s but has been reduced to “my eye!” and now seems to be completely out of the spoken language. I myself have never said or heard the phrase used.

wesspan
wesspan
4 years ago

I really like these lessons where you teach a casual, everyday phrase: it makes the language more relatable than stiff, out-of-a-book sentences. That Brot link was funny! On the subject of idioms, are there many involving sausages? I watched a video where someone mentioned being a ‘blind sausage’.

parisbongi
parisbongi
4 years ago

In both English and French one might say „my eye“ (he cleared the table). In any case, it makes about as much sense as „von wegen“!

Anonymous
Anonymous
4 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

“mon oeil” of course. There is also a gesture that makes the point without a word – simply pull your lower eyelid down with your finger. Google “mon oeil” and you’ll see. Thanks again!

parisbongi
parisbongi
4 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

comment image

alextruesdale
alextruesdale
4 years ago

Dumm wie Brot? Bernd sagt anderes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dzwv4_i_o7o

sierra
sierra
4 years ago

If one disagrees with a statement, can one simple say “von wegen!” ? (under the translation of “that is so not the case”). For example, let’s say a group of boulders are bouldering (in fontainebleau) and someone says “That (boulder) problem is so much easier than the other one”, but EVERYONE else disagrees, can one just say “von wegen!” ( As in “you are ‘so full it it’, in colloquial American english). Can ‘von wegen” maybe mean/be used as the slang “What ever!” which is really negating something someone has said?

Does it have a slightly negative or insulting connotation? Could one disagree with a colleague and use it without sounding rude?

“I think we should do an exploratory lap”. Dr. Alan states loud enough for all to hear.
“That might be an option after we get an MRI” retorted Dr. Smith.

Could Dr. Smith have somehow disagreed using ‘von ween’ without being disrespectful? In reviewing your examples, it seems like a pretty strong expression.

Sierra
Sierra
4 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Thanks for clarifying. Thank goodness you understand not only German but the nuances of English. I think I got this one now!

Roslyn Parker
Roslyn Parker
4 years ago

How about ,, but that’s bullshit”?

RuthE
RuthE
4 years ago

Ich will die Kommentare lesen. :)

RuthE
RuthE
4 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Es geht gut, danke. Ich hätte sagte sollen, möchte ich die Benachrichtigungen.

BieneMaya
BieneMaya
4 years ago

Is von wegen maybe the slightly more colorful cousine of “doch” (the contra meaning)?

Amerikanerin
Amerikanerin
4 years ago

Love this one! Didn’t think “wie Hölle” or “mein Arsch” sounded as OK in German as in English, but “von wegen” solves that problem! Emanual just created a monster by teaching me “von wegen”!

Jake
Jake
4 years ago

Welches ist nach der Meinung der Deutschen dümmer, Brot oder Stroh? ;-)