Posted on by Ulrike Rettig

Cool German Idioms 2 - beißen

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Some idioms with "beißen"

in den sauren Apfel beißen
(literally: to bite into the sour apple)
to bite the bullet
die Farben beißen sich
(literally: the colors bite each other)
the colors clash
ins Gras beißen
(literally: to bite into the grass)
to bite the dust

den letzten beißen die Hunde
(literally: the dogs will bite the one who is last)
the last one's left holding the bag
ein Rätsel (a riddle):
Was hat sieben Häute und beißt alle Leute?
What has seven skins and stings all people?
Antwort (answer):
die Zwiebel (the onion)

The German letter ß vs ss

Maybe you are wondering about the German letter "ß", also called Eszett "sz" or Scharfes-S.
In a spelling reform in the early 90s, the use of the "ß" vs. the "ss" was simplified.

It is now much easier to remember: after a short vowel or Umlaut you'll find "ss".
Examples are: müssen, küssen, lassen, fassen, Tasse, Kasse, Riss, Biss, etc.

After a long vowel (or double vowel) you'll find a "ß".
Examples are: beißen, heißen, genießen, Maß, Straße, Fuß, Gruß, etc.

We came across this change during a trip from Stralsund to Usedom - Exploring 2 German Baltic Islands, when we realized that the town "Saßnitz" on the island of Rügen, changed its name in 1993 to Sassnitz (short "a") in accordance to the new rule!  Leave it to the Germans to also spell town names grammatically correct!