German word of the day: Jammern

Aaron Burnett
Aaron Burnett - [email protected]
German word of the day: Jammern
Photo credit: Francesco Ungaro / Unsplash + Nicolas Raymond / flickr

If you think someone is complaining too much, you might respond with a bit of typically German directness and tell them to stop doing this.


What does it mean and how do you say it?

Jammern is a much stronger verb for "complain". Unlike beschweren, which is the more benign version of "complain," jammern means to whine or moan about something, often to the point of annoying others who may think you’re making a bigger deal out of your grievance than what’s necessary.

Its pronunciation sounds a bit like the English "yammer". But since "yammer" means to talk foolishly or incessantly in general, jammern doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing.

"Yammer" is a more general English term that might refer to someone who over-talks because they’re full of themselves, for example. But jammern tends to be used specifically in German for "whining".

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How do you use it or where might you see it?

Veteran German CDU politician Wolfgang Schäuble, who served as both Bundestag President and federal Finance Minister over his long political career, encouraged Germans to stop "whining" or jammern, about the country’s energy crisis last winter. 

"Put on a sweater, Or maybe even a second sweater," he told Bild-TV.


He then said:

Darüber muss man nicht jammern, sondern muss man erkennen: Vieles ist nicht selbstversändlich – "One must not whine about it. Instead, one must recognize that a lot of things are taken for granted."

To use jammern yourself, just conjugate it like you would most verbs. For example, you can say: du jammerst zu viel! –  or "You whine too much!"


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