German word of the day: Das Schmuddelwetter

Have a look outside. Is it raining horizontally, with some fog and a quite unpleasant wind? No? Then you’re lucky, because there’s no Schmuddelwetter outside.

German word of the day: Das Schmuddelwetter
Photo: depositphotos

Schmuddelwetter means bad weather, basically. And with bad weather I mean that kind of bad weather where the rain is a light drizzle that is coming from everywhere.

That kind of weather where the clouds might as well be covering the ground, you can't see anything and there’s a light drizzle as well.

As that description might suggest, the word Schmuddelwetter comes from northern Germany, where such weather is no rarity.

It literally translates to “dirty/foul/filthy weather.”

Schmuddel comes from the Low German word smuddeln, which means “to go about unclean.”

However, this is just the word that is used in the northern parts of Germany. In other parts, there are other words for it.

Examples for this are Hundewetter (“dog weather”), Sauwetter (“pig weather”), Mistwetter (“muck weather”) or, if you are in a really bad mood, Scheißwetter (“shit weather.”)

One reader told us that his friends also use the neologism “Englischwetter” to jokingly refer to his home country when the weather is less than perfect. We think that the translation of this doesn't require an explanation.

A broken umbrella lies in front of Berlin's Reichtag during a bad bout of 'Schmuddelwetter' on February 11th. Photo: DPA


Was für ein Schmuddelwetter…

What filthy weather…

Ich bin ungerne in Hamburg, weil dort so oft so ein Schmuddelwetter ist.

I don’t really like being in Hamburg, because there’s such filthy weather most of the time.

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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.