and welcome to our German Word of the Day. This time we will have a look at the meaning of:
Yeah… all chores are done, no further obligations today… time to write a new Word of the Day… let’s see… coffee: check, comfy chair: check, smooth background music: check, online dictionaries opened: check… pun-box filled: hmmm only stupid ones in here, anyway those will do so check… perfect. Looks like I am set to dive right into Frühjahrsmüdigkeit. Just a quick gaze out of the window… … … and now let’s gooooo…. oh… uhm… why is the screen dark… ah yeah right, my laptop has gone into hibernation… man I wish I could follow you there pal but we got work to do so resume…
Frühjahrsmüdigkeit, 5 long syllables of phlegm.
Every German knows what it is. In fact it works a pretty legit excuse for less than top notch performance at work or in school. But it is hard if not impossible to translate to English. So let’s see what exactly it is.
Frühjahrsmüdigkeit consists of 2 basic parts – das Frühjahr and die Müdigkeit.
Frühjahr for it’s own part consists of the word früh, which means early, and Jahr, which is the year. Joining the 2 we get early year, so it kind of makes sense that das Frühjahr means the season spring.
Now some of you might say “But isn’t der Frühling the German word for spring?”. And that is correct. Actually both words mean spring and yet they are not 100% the same thing. The difference is hard to grasp and might also be regionally dependent but I think der Frühling is a bit more the official season. The official beginning of spring in March is called der Frühlingsanfang.
Frühjahr is maybe a bit more the general time span – early in the year and not winter anymore. The 20th of June is technically still spring but I would have issues speaking of Frühjahr in that context. You can find example where the range of Frühjahr extends till July though so it is not as fixed to certain dates as Frühling. Frühjahr is used in a number of compounds. Der Frühjahrsputz for example is an extremely thorough cleaning that is usually done in spring time. Other examples are Frühjahrsoffensive or Frühjahrsmüdigkeit.
Generally the difference is not so big and you shouldn’t worry too much about which one to use. According to Google-ngram Frühling is more frequent but in the said compounds it wouldn’t really work.
So… the second part of Frühjahrsmüdigkeit is die Müdigkeit which comes from the word müde. Müde essentially means tired.
- Ich bin sehr müde.
- I am very tired.
or as a question:
- Bist du müde?
- Are you tired?
There is one use of müde which might be a little confusing.
- Ich bin deiner Dummheiten müde.
- I am tired OF your stupidities.
- Ich bin des Kantinenessens müde.
- I am sick and tired of the cafeteria food.
The grammar behind this is the Genitive case and usually a construction like this will sound rather classy and might be too much for everyday conversation. I just wanted to mention that here.
Die Müdigkeit is the noun for müde and it means tiredness or fatigue and so die Frühjahrsmüdigkeit is: spring fatigue.
Spring fatigue… What is meant is a general feeling of weariness and fatigue that is not due to lack of sleep or an illness of some kind. The reason for it is… spring.
All nature is awaking, flours blossom one prettier than the other, young green leaves are sprouting, so fast you can almost watch them grow, birds are hooking up all around and the Germans… get very very very tired and uninspired, yawn all the time although they had 10 hours of sleep and blame it on spring. We are tired because it is spring. Note that it does not mean that we are fed up with spring… we like spring… it just makes us tired.
- Ich bin frühjahrsmüde.
- I am spring fatigued. (lit.)
- I have spring fatigue.
You can say that at work, in school or at home and in March and April you have a fair chance that people will accept it as a reason for your lack of energy and you might even get empathic comment like…
- Oh ja, das ging mir letzte Woche auch so.
- Oh yeah, for me it was the same last week.
So… I have looked this up online and any dictionary suggests some translations but in most of the discussion boards native English speakers didn’t seem to know the concept at all. So if your dictionary suggests spring fever as a translation… well, if spring fever means being tired then it is indeed the translation. But if it means being … horny than it has nothing to do with Frühjahrsmüdigkeit.
What’s interesting is that German media talks about Frühjahrsmüdigkeit as if it is a scientifically proven and explainable phenomenon (here a link to a German newspaper article). You can read stuff like “It is because the body is modifying the hormonal balance and that is what makes us tired. Also they offer lots of good ideas how to deal with the problem… like how you should eat and sleep and whatnot.
Honestly I have no idea as to whether Frühjahrsmüdigkeit really is such a universal phenomenon. Some discussion boards really made me doubt it. It would be interesting to know if it is known in your country and if you have a word for it so I would be glad if you could leave me a comment.
Anyway, even if it is propaganda after all… it has worked in Germany. Everyone knows it and when you claim to have it people will be more forgiving with your lack of concentration …just say:
- Ich bin frühjahrsmüde.
- Das ist wohl die Frühjahrsmüdigkeit.
- I guess it’s the spring fatigue.
If you are really clever you could even make the others say it by repeatedly mentioning that you are tired and wondering why ;)
- Ich weiß echt nicht, warum ich so müde bin…
- Man, I really don’t know why I am so tired.
So… this was our Word of the Day, die Frühjahrsmüdigkeit. The literal translation is spring fatigue. Leave me a comment whether you have that concept in your country too or not… unless you are to tired to do it. I understand. It’s April after all… … …
Hoep you liked it and see you next time.
Wir in Indien werden auch frühjahrsmüde, ich glaube es ist wegen des Ende des Lehrjahres und Geschäftsjahres
Habt ihr auch ein Wort wie auf Deutsch, mit “Frühling” drin?
Not to get too heavy here but they have shown that many people who have depressive disorders experience an episode in Spring. Is that too strong a connotation for Frühjahrsmüdigkeit?
Yes, that is way too strong :).
Hi, quite interesting and I had no idea such a thing could even exist… so definitelly not something in France (at least not in the region I am from – Center – and not in newpapers, etc.)… but don’t worry, we still have plenty to be muede about and are very well known for not needing much reason for complaining, demonstrating… and in general not doing too much work if we can avoid it. Maybe all of these other ‘excuses’ did not make room for just being muede (else, how can you argue you need to go outside and shout loudly against… well everything/anything, really…. as an argument, it doesn’t work well)
I am not living in France, though (in the UK) and I will try my best to find a way to remember this word and casually express it to my German colleague at work and see how he reacts…
In general, I would rather associate spleen-like feeling to the automn season rather than spring… feels a bit strange to associate some kind of fatigue to the season when everything wakes up…. but intersting to know this cultural detail…
Ha, yeah, try it out and get ready for some “Oh, I know that.” :). Too bad it*s kind of hard to pronounce.
Anyway, let me know how it went.
Us Czechs suffer from Frühjahrsmüdigkeit, too. It’s exactly the same concept (probably borrowed directly from Germany), complete with newspaper articles giving advice on how to deal with it etc. It’s so broadly accepted as a legitimate thing, that it’s never even occured to me that it doesn’t exist in English-speaking countries…
Good to hear that Germans aren’t the only ones who have it :)
Hi, american here, to us, winter is the tired season because it gets dark quickly and it is cold so there is not much to do outdoors except snow related things, if there even is snow. there is a term called “cabin fever” though, which means being sick and bored from being stuck inside all the time. there are also the “dog days” of summer where its like 100 degrees out and you just want to sit in front of the fan and not move because if you do, then you will be hot again. the closest thing we have to Frühjahrsmüdigkeit is that spring is associated with allergies because of the pollen so spring probably sucks for those with allergies. but for everyone else, there is the term “spring fever”, which like is like the temperature is finally going up and finally i can go outside without so many layers and omg those trees have so much leaves i swear it was bare yesterday…
I am Scottish but living and working in Germany now. Also very much enjoying your helpful blog.
In Scotland we speak more of SAD or Seasonal Affected Disorder, a kind of depression that creeps up on you in the dark days of winter. I don’t think I ever had SAD but I remember the intoxicating feeling of spring and the light returning, it was like a sudden soaring of the spirits round about the time the daffodils came out. The idea that one would be tired in Spring is very exotic.
Hehe… since you’re working in Germany you could give it a try and say how you’re oh so “frühjahrsmüde” to one of your colleagues… chances are you’ll get back a “Ohh ich auch.. ganz schlimm” …. works best with secretaries :)
I am American (with German great great grandparents). I have always had Spring Tiredness. It is not what Americans call Spring Fever. I am so glad to know there is a word for this!
I get it too. Already looking forward to it :)
I think that the phenomenon described by Fruhjahrmudigkeit is asthenia or more precisaly spring asthenia :) and yes, it is present also in romania :))
Never heard that word before but I will use that from now… it sounds soooo scientific :D
well, asthenia comes from greek so i suppose that’s the reason it has a scientific flavour. btw, how does german deal with borrowings? i mean asthenia is somehow a word you encounter in english and all the romance languages. german built a word with its own resources. is that the policy? :D
Hmmm… no, there is a word Astenie in German too but only professionals would know it. I think pretty much any Latin term related to medicine or science does exist in German but it’s true that for many there is a German word, too. Sometimes they built one but oftentimes it is just a regular word from every day life. Asthenie is of course way more precise and specific than Müdigkeit but the general public rarely needs this level of precision … but there has been a movement a few centuries ago that wanted to purge German of all Latin influence and they invented a lot of words to replace the Latin ones … some of those made it and are common usage adn they seem to be totally Germanic and old but they’re not (Rechtschreibung, Leidenschaft, Jahrhundert…) :D
There’s a song that Bette Midler sings (es gibt ein Gesang (Lied?? ) den (das?) Bette Midler singt?)… (is there a participle wanting to happen there?): “Spring can really hang you up the most…”
Spring this year has got me feeling
like a horse that never left the post.
I lie in my room
staring up at the ceiling.
Spring can really hang you up the most.
Habt die goettliche Bette Midler vielleicht die Frühjahrsmüdigkeit?
Your blog is the best blog ever – you have renewed my love of crazy Germans, so thanks
Oh… now that could very well be. Sounds like she has it :)… unless of course she is feeling that way because she has love issues or feels lonely. That would be no “Frühjahrsmüdigkeit”. You can be healthy, have a great partner, awesome kids, a positive view on life and enough money and still be “frühjahrsmüde” …
As for the German:
Es gibt ein Lied, das Bette Midler singt. … this is correct. No participle waiting :). but the way more common phrasing is
Es gibt ein Lied von Bette Midler. … it doesn’t really matter whether or not she actually wrote it in this context.
And also we have in Russian another expression, which seems to be more close to “Frühjahrsmüdigkeit”. It means “spring’s spleen”. But I think it doesn’t count, because you can use the same expression with the word “autumn” and it becomes “autumn’s spleen”. And the autum’s is even a bit more popular than the spring’s.
Hah… I like Spleen… In German there is also Spleen and it is a little crazy feature about someone… for instance always opening the warm water first :)
Anyways… autumn spleen does make more logical sense and yet if you were to use the word “Herbstmüdigkeit” people in Germany would smile, take it as a nice play on words but say…”Hah… we all know that there is NO such thing. Get yourself together :)”
Greetings from Moscow!
In Russian we do have a common expression about some “unusual” spring feelings. It is “весеннее обострение” which means literary “spring’s intensification, (sharpening)”, but it seems to me that it is more like “spring fever” and not “die Frühjahrsmüdigkeit”.
Yeah, and thanks for explaining the difference between 2 German words for “Spring”.
Isn’t it about “getting active and wanting to get into relationship with someone”? I’m from Russia and we always used it that way :D
But anyway, we definitely have something like this every spring, although I usually just say “I hate spring” 0 times a day and everybody gets it
10 of course. Not 0
They definitely have the idea in Russian-speaking places though I don’t know a special word for it – I was in Kiev and a teacher said, everyone is depressed because it’s spring, as if that was an obvious and natural fact. And it’s pretty definitely not an English idea, people think spring is a time when everyone should be getting more lively, I think people would think you were strange if you spoke about spring making you feel down. But I definitely feel the Frühjahrsmüdigkeit and I’m English, so perhaps it just shows that English people don’t understand themselves and their feelings very much.
Cool that is interesting to hear :) . What I find really strange is that at least in Germany it is treated and spoken about as if it is a cold or something. You can really find scientists explaining why we get tired and down in spring … anyways… it seems logical to kind of wake up in spring. Maybe the ENglish-speaking culture is just more optimistic than German or Russian. So some people might have symptoms but they maybe blame them on something other than spring as spring is such a positive thing.
I am unaware of a similar expression or sentiment in English. In the USA we do have ‘spring fever’ but that term expresses the sensation of wanting badly to get out out the house after what seems to have been an interminable winter. I hope this helps.
Hello, I have just discovered your blog a few days ago and I am absolutely fascinated. I am from Japan and we have Frühjahrsmüdigkeit in Japanese as well. Well, we call it “May sickness” (easy). I am just glad to know that we have a word that has almost same words in exact same meaning, finally. Because, as you know, German is hard to translate into any languages and to Japanese is also out-of-questioningly difficult sometimes…. I am looking forward to the new post! Cheers.
That is interesting to hear that it does exist in other countries too… so I guess there is a real biological background to it :)