Fernweh: A very German word.


Today, I’ve been suffering from a severe case of Fernweh.

Fernweh is a German word, a very German word indeed. The common English translation that you’ll find in dictionaries is ‘wanderlust’ or ‘travel bug’, but I think this is not a very adequate counterpart.

Fern-weh is a compound of ‘Fern’, which means ‘far, afar’ and ‘Weh’, which means ‘pain’ or ‘suffering’. ‘Weh’ is a rather old-fashioned word that is not much used these days, you mostly find it in literature and poetry.
Wanderlust, however, seems to be quite a jolly word. The lust for wandering, an energetic desire to do something.

Fernweh, on the other hand, is a longing with a strong element of suffering, a nostalgic passiveness that not necessarily ends up in doing something.

A very German word indeed.

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Categories: MiscellaneousTags: , , , , , ,

14 comments

  1. And when someone has Fernweh, I experience Schadenfreude. When they are able to alleviate their Fernweh, they might also experience Fahrvergnugen. (Let me see how many other “standard” German words I can list here…)

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  2. It sounds like you need a holiday!

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  3. That’s a lovely word. I think the suffering element makes it so much cooler than ‘wanderlust’. 😉

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  4. I think I understand the meaning of the word, and would offer up “travelache” as a possible English counterpart.

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  5. Oh, what a perfect word for the need to travel. I feel this every day.

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