Word of the Day – “Frühjahrsmüdigkeit”

fruejahrsmuedigkeitHello everyone,

and welcome to our German Word of the Day. This time we will have a look at the meaning of:

die Frühjahrsmüdigkeit 

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.