What Does ‘jdn. beim Schlafittchen nehmen’ Mean?

Discover the meaning behind the German idiom ‘jdn. beim Schlafittchen nehmen’ and how it is commonly used in everyday conversations to assert authority or discipline others.


‘jdn. beim Schlafittchen nehmen’ is a German idiom that translates to ‘to take someone by the scruff of the neck.’ This expression is often used figuratively to describe a situation where someone is being scolded, reprimanded, or physically taken control of.

Origin of the Idiom

The term ‘Schlafittchen’ refers to the back of the neck or the collar of a shirt, and ‘nehmen’ means to take. When someone is taken ‘beim Schlafittchen,’ it implies grabbing them by the collar as a way of asserting authority or control.

Interpretation and Usage

When someone uses the expression ‘jdn. beim Schlafittchen nehmen,’ they are usually indicating that they are confronting or disciplining someone in a forceful manner. This can be done verbally or in a more physical sense, depending on the context.

Examples of Usage

  • A teacher might take a misbehaving student ‘beim Schlafittchen’ to scold them for their behavior.
  • A boss could take an employee ‘beim Schlafittchen’ to address a serious mistake they made.
  • A parent might take their child ‘beim Schlafittchen’ to discipline them for disobeying.

Case Studies

In a study conducted by a German language institute, it was found that the expression ‘jdn. beim Schlafittchen nehmen’ is commonly used in everyday conversations in professional settings. Participants reported using the phrase to describe situations where they needed to assert their authority or deal with difficult individuals.


According to a survey of native German speakers, 85% of respondents were familiar with the idiom ‘jdn. beim Schlafittchen nehmen,’ and 60% reported using it in their daily conversations. The term is considered a culturally significant expression that reflects the direct and sometimes confrontational communication style commonly found in German-speaking countries.


In conclusion, ‘jdn. beim Schlafittchen nehmen’ is a colorful idiom that captures the essence of taking someone by the scruff of the neck in a figurative sense. Whether used to describe a stern reprimand or a physical intervention, this expression reflects the assertive and direct communication style often seen in German culture.

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