German Word of the Day: Der Weltschmerz

Today's German word of the day is something many people experience as they back to work on Monday morning.

German Word of the Day: Der Weltschmerz
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Tired, down and depressed with the world? Frustrated with your friends because they refuse to help you out of the predicament you’re in? Don’t want to go in to work because your colleagues are incompetent? You might have a case of Weltschmerz.

Weltschmerz literally means ‘world pain’ and refers to a sense of world-weariness. It denotes feelings of sadness and melancholy as provoked by the inadequacy of the human experience. Weltschmerz is suffered by people who perceive that physical reality is too tarnished by evil and suffering to satisfy the mind’s desires.

The word was coined by German Romantic author Jean Paul and became a popular notion amongst other Romantic writers such as Heinrich Heine and Clemens Brentano.

Er hat viel um seinen Weltschmerz geschrieben.

He wrote a lot about his feelings of world weariness

Ich kann es nicht mehr leiden. Ich leide an Weltschmerz.

I can’t put up with it any more. I’m suffering from weariness with the world.

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German word of the day: Umstritten

Not everyone agrees on everything - and there are some things almost nobody can agree on. If you find yourself dealing with the latter, you may need to make use of this German word.

German word of the day: Umstritten

Why do I need to know umstritten?

Because umstritten is a handy word that can be applied to multiple situations, but is especially useful when chatting about current affairs or the big social issues of our day. 

You’ll likely come across it while reading articles in German newspapers, or hear your German friends use it while setting the world to rights in the pub. 

What does it mean?

Umstritten is best translated as “controversial” or “disputed” in English. As usual in German, you can easily work out – and remember – what it means by breaking it down into smaller components. 

The first is the prefix um, which tends to mean “around”. Think of German words like umkehren, which means to turn around or reverse, or umarmen, which means to put your arms around someone (or hug them in other words!). 

The second component is the verb streiten, which means to argue. So something that’s umstritten is something that there are lots of arguments around, like a controversial new law, a social debate or a public figure. 

Use it like this: 

Die Pläne der Regierung waren hoch umstritten.

The government’s plans were highly controversial. 

Sein Erbe als Fußballtrainer ist immer noch umstritten.

His legacy as football manager is still disputed today.