Lecciones de Alemán

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The adjective übel

The adjective übel in German has a number of translations, both alone and in various idiomatic contexts. First of all, it can mean "queasy," "sick to one's stomach," or "nauseated": 

 

Davon wurde manchem übel.

Some people became sick to their stomachs from that.

Caption 13, Deutsche Welle: Was ist das Reinheitsgebot?

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It can also be used colloquially to express dislike of something, and means "bad," "objectionable," or "over the top."

 

Na ja, vielleicht ist es ja gar nicht so übel.

Well, maybe that isn't that bad at all.

Caption 51, Küss mich, Frosch: Für immer Frosch?

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Auch diese ganzen Witze, auch vor allem, wie die Frankfurter sie sich über Offenbach ausdenken, die sind übel, ja?

Also, all of these jokes, above all how those from Frankfurt come up with things about Offenbach, they are over the top, right?

Captions 43-44, Badesalz Offenbach gegen Frankfurt

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You also might hear the colloquial expression jemandem etwas übel nehmen. This means "to take something the wrong way" or "to hold something against someone."

 

Deshalb nimmt es Ihnen dort auch niemand übel, wenn Sie es sich mal eben in einem der kostbaren Oldtimer bequem machen.

That's also why no one there will hold it against you if you just make yourself comfortable in one of the valuable vintage automobiles.

Captions 6-7, Rhein-Main Ferien Technische Sammlung Hochhut

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Further Learning
Although übel is not necessarily an adjective we hope you will have to use, you can practice using the word in its various contexts in case a relevant situation arises. Nimm es mir nicht übel = "Don't hold it against me."  Mir ist übel = "I am feeling nauseated."

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