I am currently reading (aloud with my kids) the German translation of the Harry Potter series and I am a bit surprised that the German word 'Eingeweide' is used so often. 'Entrails', 'guts', 'bowels' are some English words that translate to the German word 'Eingeweide' as far as my favorite dictionary tells me.

I am talking about "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" here, but also observed this in "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" as well.

In German it seems a bit odd that this specific translation is used that often, since the word 'Eingeweide' is not very common in German, especially not if talking about books that primarily target younger readers. In my opinion this is a very "heavy" word in German that invokes heavy emotions on the reader. So I can not understand that this have been used that often, even for describing "minor" feelings and though there are surely a few more German expressions to explain this "feeling" in different nuances (in my dictionary, this would be things like "heart is in the boots" or "feeling queasy" in English).

Since I do not have an English original for Harry Potter, I am keen to know if the English original also uses one word, or maybe a phrase really, so often for feelings of such a kind, and if so what that word or phrase is.

Two examples:

  • Harry and Cho are in Hogsmeade at Madam Puddifoot. Cho is talking about Cedric and then:

    In den ein, zwei Sekunden, die er brauchte, um zu begreifen, was sie gesagt hatte, wurden Harrys Eingeweide zu Eis.

  • Before Harry goes to the ministry for defending about the dementor incident

    Harry war irgendwie dankbar, dass er sich nicht am Gespräch beteiligen musste. Seine Eingeweide krümmten sich.

  • 1
    @StefanKorn This is an interesting question, but I fear it may be more about how the translators chose a particular German word rather than about the nuances of some English word. If you could emphasize what it is exactly you want to know about the English word (or words) then I think this wouldn't be so objectionable to the close voters.
    – Mitch
    Sep 30, 2020 at 12:41
  • @Mitch: Thanks for your support. My question if there is one word or phrase in the english original that translates to the german word has been answered by Juhasz and I have accepted. I confess that I could have answered the question maybe myself if I bought the english original and read it (given that my english would be good enough to spot the right places). I am also grateful that Juhasz has given some judgements on the english vocab used. I probably better put the question on Literature, but cannot see the need of closing here. But if the hammer will fall, I take it like a man :-)
    – Stefan Korn
    Sep 30, 2020 at 15:26
  • @StefanKorn I don't think it would have worked on Literature since it is not really about an interpretation of the work. It really is more about the translation of English to German but then reframed as a question about the variance in English words that correspond to the single German word (which may be an artifact of the translators rather than either language). Juhasz answered it very appropriately but of course multiple further essays about guts and Eingeweide could be written. A word is worth a thousand words..
    – Mitch
    Sep 30, 2020 at 15:38
  • 2
    @Mitch The scope of Literature is pretty broad :-) We aren't just about interpretation and analysis: questions about translation or even book-care and physical-books are on-topic here.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Oct 5, 2020 at 18:49

1 Answer 1


The first example in Der Orden des Phönix seems to be

Solch wilde Gedanken wirbelten durch Harrys Kopf, und seine Eingeweide verknoteten sich vor Zorn

The original English is

These furious thoughts whirled around in Harry’s head, and his insides writhed with anger

Next we find

Harry spürte, wie seine Eingeweide einen mächtigen Satz machten, als ob er gerade eine Stufe treppab verpasst hätte.

Harry felt a great jolt in his guts as though he had just missed a step going downstairs.


Angst stach ihm wie Nadeln in die Eingeweide, wenn er sich fragte, was aus ihm werden sollte, falls sie ihn der Schule verwiesen.

Fear jabbed at his insides like needles as he wondered what was going to happen to him if he was expelled.

The one German word is being used to translate (at least) two different English words, so there doesn't appear to be a strict one-to-one substitution. But we do see that all three passages are quite similar in tone and content. They all describe an intense distress that's felt in the body.

The words insides and guts, on their own, don't sound too heavy or mature. They are both used fairly frequently in writing for children. However, as I wrote above, these situations are not light. They're meant to sound somewhat upsetting.

Also note that none of these specific phrases - "insides writhed with anger", "a jolt in his guts", "Fear jabbed at his insides like needles" - is very common. They don't sound unnatural, or unidiomatic, but they are not fixed or well-known phrases.

  • 5
    Nice. "and his entrails writhed with anger" would be much more disturbing. Sep 29, 2020 at 16:48
  • 1
    thanks Juhasz, this gives me a good impression. While going over the passages in the book, I think they are mostly really related with strong emotions, therefore "eingeweide" does not seem to heavy. But maybe a little more variants would have been not too bad for german translation.
    – Stefan Korn
    Sep 29, 2020 at 18:32

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