Word of the Day – “der Schwarm”

Hello everyone,

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

der Schwarm


Because a Schwarm is quite common in spring, and it’s one of the best things about it.
Now you might be like “Oh, you mean like  swarm of blood sucking mosquitoes. Yeah, that’s really great… on opposite day.”
But I’m actually not being sarcastic.
Yes, a Schwarm of mosquitoes at a lake in the evening sun can suck.
But that other Schwarm, your Schwarm, at a lake in the evening… that’s amazing. And it might also suck .. later…. anyways, let’s jump right in and find out…

So yeah, der Schwarm is the German word for swarm.

Wow, that’s probably one of the dumbest examples ever :).
Anyway, the origin of swarm and Schwarm is most likely just an imitation of the sound swarms make when they swarm around our heads. Which brings us right to the verb schwärmen, the German version of to swarm.
One of its meaning is of course the literal action of swarming.

But Germans kind of liked the verb. Like…
“Oh, schwärmen is such a nice verb.”
“Yeah, such a pointless umlaut, so awesome. Really a pity that its meaning is so narrow.”
“Yeah, why don’t we find some crazy figurative use for the terrific verb.”
And so they did… behold…

Yup, schwärmen means to rave.
Now you might be like “Hmmm… that makes sense. A swarm does look kind of wild.”
But this notion of wild is actually NOT the core idea of schwärmen. Schwärmen is to rave in the sense that you’re really infatuated with something and you share that with the world. And that kinds of makes sense, too. Take the second example… Thomas is definitely excited by the beer, that’s kind of the general unrest of a swarm. And it he keeps circling around the topic, just like a swarm of mosquitoes is circling around our heads. And his mind is … well… not completely focused and clear, just like a swarm doesn’t always have a clear direction.
“Excuse me, Emanuel, but I have a PhD in Swarmetics and Swarmology, and swarms can actually be very fast and efficient problem solvers, so what you said wasn’t accur…. “
Okay, okay… sorry that I’m trying to make a connection.
Ugh, science. Such a buzzkill.
Get it, get it… my swarm noise reference? Hold on, give me a second, I have to do something…
…*pats himself on the shoulder…
Okay… so yeah… this schwärmen von in the sense of being infatuated, raving  is super  common and there are also a few related words with it.

Yeah, that was a little insight into how I struggle with the English language sometimes… so maybe you don’t feel so bad about your German pronunciation :).
Anyway, the last few examples actually lead us right up to where we started… the mysterious other meaning of Schwarm.
Do you have an idea :)?
Der Schwarm is a common Germar for the person you have a crush on…  or in short… your crush.
It’s kind of funny when you think about it… a crush really is a bit like a swarm in your head, flying everywhere, making you nervous and excited.

I guess we should note that Schwarm really ONLY refers to the person,  NOT the feeling. If you want to say that you have a crush on someone, then sich vergucken is the best choice.

And that’s it for today :). This was our look at the meaning of der Schwarm.
And now we can all forget about German and go out to the park and meet one. I mean… a good Schwarm, not a blood sucking mosquito one.
As always, if you have any questions or suggestions, just leave me a comment.
I hope you liked it and see you next time.

for members :)

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Puppy love really only applies to, well, puppies – early teen girls. Like a first crush. But not nearly the same connotation as infatuation, in my opinion. Infatuation carries more of a negative potential meaning, like bordering on obsession. Puppy love is considered harmless, innocent.


Hey! great to be here… thanks to everyone (the other members) whom made this possible..


Ich schwärme, du schwärmst, wir alle schwärmen von Schawarma… (There’s an old song that goes, “I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream.)

A good alternative to “rave” for “schwärmen” (at least in AE) is “to gush about something.” There’s also “go on about something” (meaning to be unable to shut up about it), which could fit the Thomas beer example.

Regarding “Heuschreckenschwarm”: I thought it was kind of funny that you came up with “cicadas.” As far as I know, “Heuschrecken” are locusts, the grasshopper-like critters that can wipe out all the vegetation in an area when they swarm. Now, “locust” is actually a colloquial name for cicadas (at least in the US), but cicadas are a different insect. They are also really numerous when it’s the season for them, but people crowding a buffet would definitely be compared to locusts. (It’s not uncommon to refer to a “plague of locusts,” a reference to the biblical story of the Exodus and a few other places.)


I really enjoy while reading your articles. It is way easier to remember with your explanations. You have such an admiring work here. Thanks for making German easier !

Otto von Bismarck
Otto von Bismarck

Without this website my german would be aufull.


In colloquial AE, one would say, ”like a swarm of locusts” – Locusts are the bad guys (one of the biblical plagues), cicadas are the good guys (giving Southern nights a ”sound”).

Schwärmerei = Raving about, gushing about or if it’s in a negative sense, ”going on about”.

One would ”swoon” over someone – you know, show romantic interest. Not puppy-love, but a more childish way for an adult to feel romantic interest. ”Wooing” would be the actual showing of the above-mentioned interest to the object of interest.

Infatuation (Maria’s infatuation for…) is sorta borderline obsessed. I’d say, ”keeness on”, ”hots for”, ”attraction to”, ”captivation by/with”.

With an infatuated gaze sounds odd. I’d say, ”with a moonstruck, enamored, enchanted, lovesick, smitten, bewitched, devoted, besotted, gaze.”


we pat someone (or ourselves) on the back. (not pad).
you have a true gift for teaching German. Thank you very much


Nice article, to be honest I didnt know the meaning of rave, now I learned 2 words! . By the way, I want to thank all of you who contribute for the scholarships, I am one of the lucky guys who got one. Thank you all!


Yes, locusts are the voracious eaters. Cicadas do the vast majority (if not all) of their eating sucking sap for years under ground as “nymphs.” They emerge eventually for just a few weeks of frantically calling for mates and getting another generation started. The noise seems to be what they’re most associated with, so if the party guests were really raucous they could perhaps be compared with cicadas.

What a lovely word Heuschreck[e] is. But tricky, too, as dict.cc gives die Heuschrecke without qualification, and der Heuschreck as south German and Austrian. I suppose the Schreck is fear of, or horror at, what they do to crops rather than the shock of encountering them unexpectedly., but perhaps there’s a completely different explanation.

Thanks for another entertaining and instructive post.


That’s just great. Not only different words for different groups of animals (like in English) but auf Deutsch different words depending on the SIZE of the group. Like, why am I not surprised? Stick forks in my eyes.

David S.
David S.

“Maria macht den Fisch warm, Thomas sieht den Fischschwarm.” Utterly punderful….I am in love.


Your articles are so thorough and entertaining! Thanks for all your hard work. And yes, I do feel better about having a difficult time pronouncing German words after hearing you struggle with Chris Hemsworth! :)

I can’t wait to be able to have a conversation with someone in German one day! Right now it’s all just repeating what I hear on your site and singing along to German songs in my car.

Any suggestions for good German music to listen to??