Have a bird

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The expression “to have a bird ” means something like “crazy, insane , not quite in your mind”. The form “ having a titmouse ” is also widespread regionally . Showing someone a bird is the gestural equivalent of this idiom.


The term is generally traced back to an old popular belief that small animals, such as birds , have taken up residence in the minds of the insane ; the same idea is also used with the phrase “It's beeping for you!” . The Viennese medical historian Johann Werfring, on the other hand, explains the origin of this expression with the former name "bird heads" for microcephalic people (= people with small heads). In the microcephaly is a development feature in humans (mental retardation), wherein the head has (like the brain) has a comparatively small size.

The variant “having a titmouse” is sometimes interpreted as a corruption of Yiddish mases , “misdeeds”, which in German colloquial language probably also resulted in the expression “antics” (“do not antics”, so “do not make nonsense”).


Slogans used synonymously include “ don't have all the cups in the cupboard ”, “don't (anymore) have all the slats on the fence”, “have a screw loose” and “have a crack in the bowl” and “have a shot”.

Individual evidence

  1. Olga Ejikhine: Taken while word , digitalis Books, 2006, ISBN 978-90-77713-05-1
  2. ^ Lutz Röhrich: Lexicon of proverbial sayings , 5 volumes, Freiburg i. Br. 1991, vol. 5, col. 1680; Lemma "bird".
  3. ^ Johann Werfring: "Bird heads" in the Viennese "Narrenturm". (No longer available online.) In: “Wiener Zeitung” of October 28, 2010, supplement “ProgrammPunkte”, p. 7. Formerly in the original ; Retrieved December 11, 2010 .  ( Page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Toter Link / www.wienerzeitung.at  
  4. ^ Alfred Klepsch: West Yiddish Dictionary: On the basis of dialectological surveys in Middle Franconia . Walter De Gruyter, Berlin 2004, p. 1000.
  5. Heidi Stern: Dictionary of Yiddish loan vocabulary in German dialects . De Gruyter, Berlin 2000, p. 138.
  6. Duden: Shot (s) .