Word of the Day – “der Hammer”

hammer-meaningHello everyone,

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

der Hammer


Hammer is a comestible. It’s usually made from porc and it’s either dried, smoked or wet cured. So basically it’s like ham just … hammer.
Wow.  “Like ham, just hammer”?!
That must have been one of the unfunniest jokes ever. Oh boy, so much for my new years resolution of making better jokes. But hey… it can only go uphill from here. Or can it.
Anyway… of course, der Hammer is the exact same thing as the English hammer, the tool to put in nails. What you might not know though is just how much Germans like the word.
Let me give you an idea of how common Hammer is – the word Schere means scissors. I use scissors almost every day whereas I use a hammer once a month maybe. Now, when you type in” Schere” on Google you get about 8 million hits. For “Bier”, something that Germans really like, you get 78 million. And now guess how many hits you get for Hammer… … …
it’s freaking 280 Million!!!
Not as much as the 1.5 billion you get for “sex” and the 2.7 billion you get for “Auto” but for instance 2.5 times as many as for “Fußball” and “Bier”.
And even if some of the hits are due to the fact that Hammer is also a name, Germans clearly have something going on with the word.
What exactly?
Well… this idea of force and impact combined with the super easy pronunciation have inspired Germans to use Hammer for what is today: a pretty common colloquial word used to express the idea of “high intensity, high impact” or simply “extreme“.

  • Das war der Hammer.

This is a super common way to say that something was either incredibly cool or it is a very unpleasant event or piece of news. And there are many variation based on this…. I tried my best with the translation but I’m open to ideas.

  • 15 Euro für ein Bier?! Das ist ja der Hammer.
  • 15 Euro for a beer?! That is an outrage.
  • Als der Chef uns im Meeting gesagt hat, dass das Projekt gecancelt ist, war das für alle erstmal ein Hammer.
  • When the boss told us in the meeting that the project is canceled that was quite the punch in the gut for everyone.
  • Die Pommes da sind der absolute Hammer.
  • The fries there are the absolute stunner/best.
  • “Hey… Ich hatte heute Morgen Langeweile und da hab ich dein Fahrrad repariert.”
    “Echt? Du bist der Hammer!”
  • “Hey… I as bored this morning so I repaired your bike.”
    “Really??! You’re the best/shit!”

This use is super common and so established that you can find it in newspaper headlines, especially of the yellow press. But that’s not the only thing you can do with Hammer.  Hammer is actually incredibly versatile. Or should I say hammer-versatile? Because that’s what I’d do in German.

  • Ich ess nur hammerselten Döner.
  • I eat kebab only super rarely.
  • Der Wein schmeckt hammerscheiße.
  • The wine tastes awful.
  • Ich geh’ hammergern in die Sauna.
  • I really, really love going to the sauna.
  • Das Deo riecht hammerintensiv.
  • The deodorant smells super intensive.
  • Thomas ist ein oberhammerkrass guter Sänger.
  • Thomas is an absolutely, incredibly  amazing singer.

Just add hammer to an adjective to make it “super”. And boy do I love this. I think this is actually my favorite intensifiers. The vibe and the flow are just awesome, hammerawesome even. And it works for a wide range of adjectives and adverbs. The only exception I could make out are those ones that talk about elegance, fragility, beauty. Like…  hammerschön or hammerfein. I don’t know… it’s not wrong to say that but the vibes just don’t really fit together, in my opinion.
Now, when you look at real spoken German you’ll find more ways to use Hammer.

  • “Wie war der Film?”
    “(Der war) hammer!
  • “How was the movie?”
    Pure awesome!
  • Thomas kommt hammer zu spät.
  • Thomas is super late.
  • Mein Chef hat mich hammer genervt.
  • My boss really annoyed me.
  • Der Neue ist hammer der Idiot. 
  • The new guy is a big idiot.
  • Ich hab hammer Kopfschmerzen
  • I have a horrible headache.

Looks like, when Germans have to decide between hammer and proper grammar, grammar stands no chance ;).
These last examples are super colloquial though. I hear them a lot and I use them daily but maybe it’s just a regional thing.
The first two we had, the stand alone Hammer and the hammer+adjective, are used all over Germany, I think. Not by everyone of course, but they’re not some crazy niche slang either and if you want to sound a little more native, just throw one in here and there. I mean…. with friends. You wouldn’t complain to your professor that the test was hammerkompliziert… unless he or she is hammercool.

All right. What we could do now is talk about the plural of Hammer and the verb and we could list all the different kinds of Hammers but if you ask me, there’s a better option… we take our Feierabendhammer  and open a beer.
And if you’re now like “Wait… what’s a Feierabendhammer?” … well….take a look.
The tool is fun, but the name is just hammer… as in awesome :).
So that’s it for today. This was our look at the colloquialicious word Hammer. If you have any questions or if you’ve heard other uses for it or if you’re a German speaker and you DON’T use Hammer just leave a comment.
I hope you enjoyed it and see you next time.

** vocab **

der Hammer, die Hämmer – the hammer, also: an extreme
der Vorschlaghammer – the sledge hammer
der hammer Vorschlag – the kick butt idea
hämmern – to hammer

die Zange  – (pair of) pliers
die Schere (singular) – the scissors

5 6 votes
Article Rating