Getting lost

Today when I went for a run, I ended up getting lost as a result of my being new to the area and my penchant for trying new paths while on a run in order to avoid repeating part of route unless absolutely necessary. While lost, I began to ponder both “to get lost” and the expression “Get lost!” as I didn’t, until researching this piece, know how to say them in German.

For “to get lost” I discovered several options, two of which are reflexive, sich verirren – for which no meaning other than “to get lost” is given – and sich verlaufen – which can also mean “to disperse” or in the case of a crowd “to thin out.” This second was particularly appealing given that I happened to get lost while “running” which can be translated as laufen.

There are also options that appear to apply more to things getting lost such as abhandenkommen (which appears in the phrase Diebstahl Plünderung Abhandenkommen“theft, pilferage and non-delivery”) or  verlorengehen – “to go astray” – which it appears is typically used to refer to something lost in the post/mail.

There is also hopsgehen which is a slang term that can mean  “to die” (think “to kick the bucket”) or “to get broken/break down” as well as “to get lost.” One thing I loved about this is its past tense – ging hops.

And of course, just as in English, there are also figurative versions of “getting lost” such as nicht mehr weiter wissen – “to be [all] at sea” – or “to be lost in a book/in thought” – in Gedanken/ein Buch versunken sein.

And given the command form “Get lost!” means something quite different, I couldn’t resist searching for German parallels for this phrase. One that I uncovered is Zieh Leine! (literally something like “Pull the rope!”) for which pons.eu also offers the translations “Go fly a kite!” and “Take a hike.” A second is Mach dich vom Acker! (literally something like “Make/Take yourself from the field!”) and appears to come from military slang for leaving the practice field and possible going AWOL. (For more slang from this part of the alphabet see this page from the Goethe Institute).

Once again it has been a pleasure getting lost in both English and German, proving to me the proverb that Der Weg ist das Ziel.

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