German saying – 08/15

Every country has its sayings.

Sometimes there are wise words people throw at you when you least need them. Sometimes they really cheer you up. “What goes around comes around” can always increase my mood.

Some sayings have just moved into our languages and one that is really famous in German is this one: “Something is 08/15 (nullachtfuffzehn or null eight fifteen)”.

Germans use it when they want to indicate that something is usual, nothing particularly special, average, or nothing to even mention.

It sounds quite negative and that´s the meaning it can have. But it can actually also be meant in a neutral way. Just a statement that something is standard.

Have you ever wondered where sayings in your culture and language come from? I have – and my ex-roommate has investigated even more on where those cool unecessary-but-always-good-for-bragging meanings come from.

So, let me share this one with you:

The root of this saying is not 100% clear – but all three explanations are connected to a machinegun from WWI with the label 08/15.

Explanation one: The soldiers in WWI had to complete a daily training with this machinegun which was really boring. Routine. 08/15.

Explanation two: Until the 08/15 machinegun was invented and introduced in the German army, every region had its own type of gun. So suddenly the weapons were standardized. 08/15.

Explanation three: WWI took four years – due to lack of resources the quality of the material decreased since 1915. The original model was MG 08 (created in 1908). It was further developed in 1915. All guns had the model and the year indicated on the weapon. o8/15. When the soldiers talked about the machinegun they talked about the 08/15 being standard – nothing special.

Surprised? I was when I heard it the first time. And pretty much everyone is, when I tell people.

Oh, one little hint – if you really want to confuse people, just throw information like this into a conversation. Just out of the blue. Unexpected. I guarantee you, they will not forget you – ever…. I heard. From people who have never forgotten me….


What are your little unnecessary-but-always-good-for-bragging information? Anything you would like to share with us? I need some new input! ….

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