What Does the Jumping Point Mean in German?

by Expath Language School

Hint: it‘s an expression that doesn‘t have anything to do with jumping up and down.

The Phrase

Have you heard this expression before? Der springende Punkt.

This German phrase, which literally translates as “the jumping point” is used to express “the heart/core/nub/crux of the matter” or the “key point”:

Der springende Punkt ist: genau das Gegenteil ist richtig.

The point of the matter is: The exact opposite is correct.

Ok, but Why?

This strange expression has an interesting history.

Curious about the origin of life (specifically at what point an egg would turn into a chicken), ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle is said to have cracked eggs at different stages of development until he observed a tiny “jumping” point – the future heart of the bird.

This proverbial “heart of the matter” or “starting point” thus became translated as “punctum saliens” in Latin (from which English speakers get the word “salient”, which really means “leaping”) and from there made its way to the extremely common German expression featured here.

Try It Out

You can use it to highlight an idea when speaking with collegues at work, or you to ask someone to get to their point a little faster when telling a story. Usually it is reserved for a more serious conversation but you can also simply use it when arguing with your partner over where to eat:

Der springende Punkt ist: Ich möchte Sushi essen, also gehen wir dorthin.

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