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    New entry for LEO

    at the drop of a hat - auf Anhieb

    New entry

    at the drop of a hat - auf Anhieb

    Examples/ definitions with source references

    b. at the drop of a (occas. the) hat: promptly, immediately. orig. U.S. colloq.
    1854 J. B. JONES Life of Country Merchant xv. 175 You said you'd marry me at the drop of a hat! 1887 M. ROBERTS Western Avernus 43 Ready to quarrel ‘at the drop of a hat’, as the American saying goes. 1901 ADE Forty Modern Fables 49 Every Single Man in Town was ready to Marry her at the Drop of the Hat. 1944 M. SHARP Cluny Brown iv. 30 Miss Cream's visit coincided with a week of superb weather. At the drop of a hat she stripped and sunbathed{em}or rather, a hat was the only thing she didn't drop. 1958 M. DICKENS Man Overboard xi. 165 The invaluable ability to write an article about almost anything under the sun at the drop of a hat.
    Near synonym of on the spur of the moment, which is in LEO. But I don't find at the drop of a hat.
    Authormabr (598108) 25 May 10, 19:28
    Ich kenne den Ausdruck nicht und kann mich daher nur zur deutschen Seite äußern. "Auf Anhieb" passt hier meistens nicht, finde ich:

    Man kann eine Frau vom Fleck weg heiraten.
    Man kann einen Artikel aus dem Ärmel schütteln - oder "aus dem Lameng" schreiben.
    Man kann aus heiterem Himmel einen Streit anfangen.

    An sich ein lohnender Eintrag, mit der richtigen deutschen Entsprechung. Wird er noch häufig gebraucht? Beim Googeln finde ich auf den ersten Seiten fast nur Wörterbuchverweise, was ja häufig darauf hinweist, dass der Ausdruck ein Eigenleben in den Wörterbüchern führt. Aber da lasse ich mich gern eines Besseren belehren.

    #1Authorwupperwolf (411909) 25 May 10, 20:56
    It's very common. If you look beyond the first google page, you'll find plenty of occurrences and, perhaps even more revealing, a number of occurrences in names and titles. If advertisers use it, they must expect people to recognize it.

    I'd accept vom Fleck web (for which LEO gives on the spot) alongside of auf Anhieb. Aus dem Ärmel schütteln implies facility of production rather than immediacy of action. And aus heiterem Himmel would suggest lack of preparation of forewarning. If you are prepared for an emergency, you can gather up your supplies at the drop of a hat, on the spot, perhaps on the spur of the moment (though that sounds more improvised) but not out of the blue (aus heiterm Himmel) or aus dem Ärmel. LEO doesn't have a good translation for aus dem Ärmel schütteln. For a comedian who is that quick on the draw, I might say that he can fire off jokes a mile a minute, or also at the drop of a hat. But neither English expression would work for writing articles.

    What do other Muttersprachler think?
    #2Authormabr (598108) 25 May 10, 21:55
    What about 'she cries at the drop of a hat'? Da paßt 'auf Anhieb' auch nicht, mir fällt aber auch nur so Umständliches wie 'bei jeder Kleinigkeit' ein.
    #3AuthorGibson (418762) 25 May 10, 22:09
    Just a quick comment. "At the drop of a hat" is definitely in common use (AE). It's part of my active vocabulary. I would support an entry of some sort.
    #4Authorwupper (354075) 25 May 10, 22:17
    Gibson's right about the crybaby,though that's probably not the most typical use of the idiom. Funny how tricky these idioms are. You'd think you could come up with equivalents just like that, at the drop of a hat, pouring out of your sleeve, but when push comes to shove, you start feeling like a stick-in-the-mud.
    #5Authormabr (598108) 25 May 10, 23:52
    "At the drop of a hat" is definitely part of my active vocabulary too, but I know it more in the sense of an action taken at a moment's notice, with little or no provocation/warning/preparation, not necessarily simply right away. To me, crying at the drop of a hat or getting in fistfights at the drop of a hat seem like natural usages, and "auf Anhieb" doesn't go with those, as Gibson mentions. I agree that there should be an entry. I tend to think "vom Fleck weg" works better, but it still doesn't capture the whole thing.
    #6AuthorKatydid (US) (694445) 26 May 10, 00:28

    at the drop of a hat


    jederzeit, sofort

    Context/ examples
    — at the drop of a hat : as soon as the slightest provocation is given : immediately

    at the drop of a hat
    immediately; without hesitating
    The company can't expect me to move my home and family at the drop of a hat.

    at the drop of a hat
    If you do something at the drop of a hat, you do it immediately without stopping to think about it
    People will file lawsuits at the drop of a hat these days.

    at the drop of a hat
    promptly; for the slightest reason.
    * jederzeit umziehen
    * (immer) sofort klagen
    * Ich würde Dich jederzeit heiraten. / Jeder würde sie sofort heiraten.
    * jederzeit über jedes Thema schreiben können
    * (immer) sofort Streit anfagen
    #7Authororeg (353563) 26 May 10, 14:17
    Beim Lesen der Beispielsätze kamen mir noch folgende Ideen:

    - unverzüglich
    - ohne Zögern
    - mir nichts, dir nichts
    #8Authormag den neuvorschlag26 May 10, 14:51
    mir nichts, dir nichts möchte ich ganz nachdrücklich unterstützen: Das scheint mir der Gullideckel zu sein, der auf alle Löcher passt, sozusagen.
    #9Authorwupperwolf (411909) 26 May 10, 14:54
    I'm not happy with 'mir nichts, dir nichts' as it usually implies that the acting person is reckless or inconsiderate.
    #10Authororeg (353563) 26 May 10, 15:13
    Context/ examples
    *m. nichts, dir nichts (ugs.; von einem Augenblick auf den anderen u. ohne zu zögern; einfach so; entstanden als Ellipse aus zwei aneinander gereihten Sätzen: [es schadet] m. nichts, [es schadet] dir nichts): m. nichts, dir nichts abhauen. 2. : ich kämme m. die Haare.

    © 2000 Dudenverlag
    "Mir nichts, dir nichts" wäre auch mein Vorschlag gewesen. Paßt meiner Meinung nach perfekt für den Beispielsatz im OALD (The company can't expect me to move my home and family at the drop of a hat.)
    #11AuthorDoris (LEO-Team) (33) 26 May 10, 16:56
    auf der Stelle
    ohne weiteres
    #12Authornoli (489500) 26 May 10, 17:58
    >>it usually implies that the person acting is reckless or inconsiderate

    It seems to me that most of the examples cited so far are annoying or inconsiderate:

    cry at the drop of a hat
    get in fistfights at the drop of a hat
    move one's home and family at the drop of a hat
    file lawsuits at the drop of a hat

    So I would support 'mir nichts, dir nichts' too.

    But there might also be other contexts that aren't necessarily negative. What did the rest of you think about this one?

    fire off jokes a mile a minute, or also at the drop of a hat

    To me those both sound idiomatic, even if they don't really mean the same thing. 'A mile a minute' just means rapidly and incessantly, whereas 'at the drop of a hat' means any time you like, without any preparation. It could be slightly disapproving, because telling jokes that often could be annoying; but it doesn't have to be.

    #13Authorhm -- us (236141) 26 May 10, 18:21
    ohne grosse Aufforderung/en
    #14Authornoli (489500) 26 May 10, 18:22
    *foiled edit*

    The suggestions in #12 seem reasonable too:

    mir nichts, dir nichts
    auf der Stelle
    ohne weiteres
    #15Authorhm -- us (236141) 26 May 10, 18:23
    As originator of this thread, I thank everyone for the thoughtful discussion.

    Our German student will be returning home shortly. I said to him, you are welcome back any time, at the drop of a hat. Then I wondered how to say it in German. Mir nichts, dir nichts wouldn't do there, nor auf der Stelle, which is descriptive but not prospective. Ohne weiteres gets the welcoming part, but not the impulse part. Similarly jederzeit. You could say, Du bist jederzeit willkommen, nur sag mal vorher Bescheid. But it might sound paradoxical to say, You're welcome at the drop of a hat, just let us know in advance. That's why I though first of auf Anhieb, on an impulse.
    #16Authormabr (598108) 26 May 10, 18:44
    ##6 here perhaps - spontan, jederzeit / nach Laune, ohne dich lange anzumelden
    #17Authornoli (489500) 26 May 10, 19:08
    @mabr (#16): Aber "auf Anhieb" bedeutet "beim ersten Versuch", nicht "on an impulse".
    Da würde ich eher "spontan" oder "kurzfristig" sagen.
    #18AuthorMark (de) (13761) 26 May 10, 20:51
    Context/ examples
    * Ich würde Dich mir nichts, dir nichts heiraten? / Jeder würde sie mir nichts, dir nichts heiraten?
    * Die Gabe, mir nichts, dir nichts über jedes Thema schreiben zu können?
    * Die Firma kann nicht erwarten, dass wir mir nichts, dir nichts umziehen?
    "Mir nichts, dir nichts" may fit in some cases but I maintain that jederzeit / sofort are indispensable alternatives.
    #19Authororeg (353563) 26 May 10, 22:06
    I agree with the contibutors who have recommend this: jederzeit

    I think the trouble lies in translating the feeling of that moment into German. There's no one way to capture it, i.e., there are different ways to express it.

    This probably isn't one of those ways, but it works for "on the drop of a hat" sometimes:
    von einer Sekunde auf die nächste

    The whole discussion reminded me of "on the drop of a dime" which is closely related, IMHO.
    #20Authoropine (680211) 27 May 10, 09:20
    Two questions, then.

    1) Should auf Anhieb be dropped as a translation for on the spur of the moment?

    2) Is anyone else familiar with on the drop of a dime? It's not in LEO nor in my vocabulary. To turn on a dime is missing in LEO, but it means either to have a small turning radius (literal usage) or to be able to change direction rapidly (figurative). Anyone want to propose that for LEO?

    I guess that's three questions.
    #21Authormabr (598108) 27 May 10, 19:24
    >>2) Is anyone else familiar with on the drop of a dime? It's not in LEO nor in my vocabulary. 

    Nope, me either. Let's not add confusion.

    I can certainly support


    as well, but I'm not familiar enough with 'auf Anhieb' to be sure.

    I would support 'to turn on a dime' if you would like to propose it in another thread. (-:
    #22Authorhm -- us (236141) 27 May 10, 19:32
    Ich habe eine Übersetzung gefunden die "at the drop of a hat" mit "in null Komma nichts" übersetzt. Noch eine Möglichkeit.
    Wieso schlägst Du es nicht selbst vor?
    #23AuthorCorvus27 May 10, 19:39
    Sheer perversity. Get out of the line of fire. Need to get back to work. Lots of reasons, all of them frivolous.
    #24Authormabr (598108) 27 May 10, 19:53
    "von jetzt auf sofort" waere noch eine Moeglichkeit.
    #25AuthorRex (236185) 27 May 10, 20:06
    That would bring us to: im Nu

    Re: "on the drop of a dime"

    mabr, why "frivolous"?
    #26Authoropine (680211) 27 May 10, 20:09
    Ah, here I am again. Frivolous because they're all groundless excuses. There's a real, good reason though; I don't have a German equivalent to propose for turning on a dime. Posting in this forum requires filling in a blank on both sides. Someone who can express turning on a dime in German could propose it.

    And come to think of it, there's also to stop on a dime.

    If anyone is into coins, you could also work on not worth a plugged nickel, the US alternative for not worth a brass farthing (ein Deut). And the forum discussion of penny-ante is inadequate.
    #27Authormabr (598108) 27 May 10, 22:04
    "... at the drop of a hat..." indicates resulting action taken with extremely short notice or waiting period, mostly for cases involving preparedness or readiness.

    "auf Anhieb" doesn't seem to apply here.
    #28AuthorMein Fritz (862420) 04 Jan 13, 01:01
    nur weil ich es hier noch nie gesehen habe
     alle bitt' fuer uns 
    #29Authornoli (489500) 04 Jan 13, 12:05
 ­ automatisch zu ­ ­ umgewandelt