German phrase of the day: Auf dein Nacken

Get to know this colloquial phrase and use it with your Austrian friends.

German phrase of the day: Auf dein Nacken

Why do I need to know auf dein Nacken?

This is the kind of phrase you’ll never find in a German textbook, but you might hear it in the wild, so it’s good to learn it for informal situations. 

What does it mean?

The phrase auf dein Nacken! literally translates to on your neck and means something like ‘this is on you’ or ‘Your treat’ or ‘you pay’. You can also use it on yourself with mein/meinen Nacken which then means: ‘this is on me’, ‘my treat’ or ‘I got this’. 

You can use this expression in the context of paying for something. For example, when the bill comes in a restaurant or if it’s your round at the pub, you might hear this from friends. 

However, the phrase can also mean something like: ‘I’ll do it’ or ‘I’ll handle it’, so it doesn’t just have to apply to money situations. In this context, it’s more about when someone takes the lead on something. 

For the eagle-eyed among you, you’ll notice that the grammar of this phrase isn’t technically correct. It should be: auf deinEN Nacken. 

The imperfect grammar represents the origins of the phrase, which comes from young people speaking and chatting on social media or text.

However, sometimes when people use it to apply to themselves, they use the correct grammar: Auf meinen Nacken. But it can be shortened too. Basically, don’t worry too much about grammar rules on this one and just go with the flow!

Keep in mind that this expression is for use with your good friends, not with your Austrian boss (unless you’re on very friendly terms).

– Hey, hast du Lust auf Binge-Watching Netflix mit Sushi?

Auf dein Nacken oder wie?

– Hey, are you up for binge-watching Netflix with sushi?”

– Your treat or what?

If you want to use the expression yourself, you can easily integrate it into an informal conversation over text. For instance, if you are taking on a bill or a task, write: Auf meinen Nacken and everyone will know that you are performing the action, paying for something or taking the lead.

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German word of the day: Grüß Gott

This is a phrase you're likely to hear a lot around Austria, especially in rural bits. Expect it too if you're headed north into Germany for Oktoberfest.

German word of the day: Grüß Gott

In Austria, as well as in Bavaria in southern Germany, this term is interchangeable with ‘Guten Tag’. 

The phrase Grüß Gott derives from ‘grüß dich Gott’, meaning ‘may God bless you’. In Middle High German – spoken roughly from the 11th to the 14th century – grüßen (or greuzen) meant to greet or to bless. Therefore, the greeting is thought to have originated during this period

For contemporary German learners, the religious undertones of the phrase may be surprising. However, many greetings used today have similar connotations. For instance, the Irish greeting ‘dia dhuit’ (God with you) and the Catalan ‘adéu-siau’/’amb Déu sigueu (be with God) are both still commonplace.

You might be more familiar with the Spanish and French terms for goodbye – adiós and adieu (to God). 

Recently, the term has sparked debate in Austria when Bernhard Ebner, a right-wing politician for the People’s Party (ÖVP), opened his statement with Grüß Gott.

The Social Democrat (SPÖ) politician Kai Jan Krainer rejected the term, stating that ‘In Vienna […] it’s Guten Tag’. Therefore, its usage is declining due to this association with conservatism.

READ ALSO: Grüß Gott vs. Guten Tag: What’s the difference in Austria?

If you prefer to use a different greeting to avoid this problem, there are other options. Specific greetings are not unusual in Austria or southern Germany (often referred to in German as a ‘Sprachraum’) and include: Servus, griaß di/grüs dich.

These greetings are more informal than Grüß Gott and tend to be used by people who already know one another, with ‘Servus’ having been compared to the Italian greeting ‘ciao’. 

READ ALSO: How to greet people like a local in Austria