German word of the day: Der Hammer

Want to sound like a true native? Today’s word of the day will help you nail German slang.

German word of the day: Der Hammer
This colloquial term hits the nail on the head when you want to sound like a native speaker. Photo: DPA

To English speakers, a hammer is nothing more than a useful household tool. For Germans, however, “Hammer” actually doubles as an incredibly popular colloquial term.

It is a very common way of expressing surprise or disbelief toward something extraordinary, whether that be positive or negative. 

This word can be heard in a huge variety of contexts and you may well be surprised at just how flexibly it is slotted into everyday speech. 

It can be used as a noun:

“Das ist (ja) der Hammer”

This is awesome!

As an adjective: 

“Ich habe hammer Bauchschmerzen”

I have an awful stomach pains.

Or even as a way of intensifying another adjective: 

“Das sieht hammercool aus!”

That looks super cool!

It is such a widespread term that it can even be spotted in popular culture. 

READ ALSO: 10 ways of speaking German you'll only ever pick up on the street

Stores will often try to lure you in with a “Hammer-Angebot” (super deal/offer), or football commentators may speak of a “Hammer-Start” (great start) to the season for a certain team. 

On the more negative side, you may see newspapers report of a “Hammer-Bußgeld” (huge fine) being issued to someone breaking the rules. It is most often used as a way of making something stand out, whether that be for good or bad reasons.

So, next time you go to an amazing concert, discover a delicious new dish, or experience a stroke of bad luck, be sure to take this word out of your linguistic toolbox!


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German Word of the Day: die Ausrede

If you want to get out of a date, or you haven’t done your homework – you might need one of these.

German Word of the Day: die Ausrede

This little German word can come in handy in a variety of situations.

Ausrede, Meaning “excuse” consists of the verb reden which means “to talk” or “to speak” and the prefix aus which translates as “out”, “off” or “from”.

So, a good way to remember the word is to think of it as a tool you use for talking yourself out of something. 

One thing to bear in mind, however, is that in German, the word Ausrede has a slightly negative connotation and can be used to hint that the reason given is fabricated.

So, if you want to tell your boss that you have a good reason for why you can’t come to work, it’s better to say you have eine Entschuldigung (also meaning excuse) instead.

Another thing to watch out for is trying to use the verb ausreden in the same way as the English “to excuse”. In German, the verb ausreden actually means to finish speaking, for example: ich lasse ihn ausreden means “I let him finish speaking”.


Er hat nach einer Ausrede gesucht

He was looking for an excuse

Diesmal habe ich keine Ausrede
This time I have no excuse
Besser keine Ausrede als eine schlechte
Better to have no excuse than a bad one