"Tilted is English and English is modern"

Hi all,

there are a few expressions and phrases in German that involve “English”. My favorite one is “Tilted is English and English is modern”. So, whenever we hang a painting on the wall and it ends up crooked or a building or roof or whatever turns out lopsided, we say this phrase and have a laugh.

When we go to a restaurant and are being served a meal that doesn’t seem to have been spiced at all, we say, “This meal is quite . . . English.”

Extremely light-skinned Germans often get to hear, “Oh, my, you have the English skin!” Yes, yes, I know from experience. :wink:

German-English greetings,


Dear Claudia!

“Tilted is English and English is modern”

I try understand it properly, and generally maybe my thinking goes in the good direction. That in Germany is modern to beckon at the English habits, when we want to criticise something-in sensitive way. Or am I wrong?

But could you, please, bring near meaning of a word “Tilted”?

Thank you very much.


Hi Alicja, :slight_smile:

I think it is a good-natured joke about one’s own mishap and a slight poke (not in a mean way, though) at the English. With “tilted” I mean “crooked”, “lopsided”. I didn’t want to translate the phrase like this, “Crooked is English and English is modern.” It could be horribly misunderstood! lol. I googled to find out the origin of the phrase. A bunch of sources claim that it arose because the English wore their hats and berets tilted not straight. I guess only the older generation of Germans still use the phrase since they were the ones who lived or grew up during the occupation.


Dear Claudia. Thank you.
When I was a child I had skis with TILT sign on them. I was curious what it meant. I thought it must be connected with ATTACK -and it was. I our case it could be also something mischieviously connected with blaming English for our mishaps.
Sorry for my inquisitiveness, but I think it is good sometimes to conduct funny dispute about nothing.

Your Alicja

Hm, it is true that “to tilt at” something means to attack something, but I rarely hear or read it. I would never buy skis that can attack me! :wink: I know I would attack trees on skis because I don’t know how to ski, lol.

The proverb isn’t used to blame the English for one’s mishap, more as a consolation that the mishap isn’t so bad. Tilted is English and the English are a modern and fashionable bunch, after all. The mishap, therefore, makes us en vogue.

No need to apologize at all, Alicja! I love inquisitive people.

Absolutely! I wish more people would think that way and join in. I see them constantly asking about grammar but never participating in a conversation. To me, a language is a living thing. Just learning the grammar of a language is like just studying the anatomy of a Homo sapiens. In the end, you know how a human is set up, but you don’t know the human.


Ha! Actually, I would attack trees if I were on skis because I don’t know how to ski. Yikes, I’ve never seen any trees on skis, although I would probably attack them, whether I were on skies or not, because they would be just odd.


Dear Claudia! During the competitions I used to attack my rivals, but not in aggresive way only trying to get the better time of the run down the slope. Now it begins to be boring to say: I used to, I used to…Really it was long time ago and it is sad.


It isn’t sad at all! At least you can say, “I used to ski in competitions.” How many others can claim to have done that? I can’t. If you can say, “I used to do this” and “I used to do that” it is a positive thing because it means that you haven’t wasted your life by being a couch potato. It is not sad that you are not doing these things anymore; you’ve changed and your interests moved to other areas. Change is good. Who likes to repeat herself anyway? It is good to expand. I used to go to concerts and party a lot, now I go to a wellness oasis and listen to quiet music. It’s cool. You only live once, treat yourself well.

I should be finished with my daily affirmations for today. :wink: