German word of the day: Doppel-Wumms

If you're looking for a German expression that packs a punch, look no further than this one.

German word of the day

Why do I need to know Doppel-Wumms?

Because it’s an expression that’s been splashed all over the media in recent weeks and is a brilliant illustration of how political slogans and colloquialisms can enter into common parlance.

What does it mean?

To understand the meaning of Doppel-Wumms, it’s worth looking at the meaning of Wumms more generally. The word – which is pronounced like this – is onomatopoeic, which means it sounds like what it signifies.

You can think of Wumms as similar to the English “boom” or “bang”, which describes a loud noise or thud. More figuratively, it can describe a powerful gesture or event that makes a big impact: think of phrases like “going out with a bang” or “giving it some oomph”. To do something “mit Wumms” is to do it energetically and forcefully – with oomph, in other words.

With that in mind, “Doppel-Wumms” can be thought of as something of a double-whammy: it’s a disruptive event or action that is perceived to have double the impact. 

Most recently, it was used by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) when he announced a whopping €200 billion relief package to support households with the rising cost of living. 

Where does it come from?

Though Wumms is a fairly well-known colloquialism, Doppel-Wumms appears to be have been Scholz’s own invention – and it has already been replicated in Austria.

He’s likely to have been riffing on his use of the word Wumms when, as Finance Minister, he announced more than €100 billion of financial support to see the country through the Covid crisis. 

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In June 2020, Scholz declared that Germany would come “mit Wumms aus der Krise” (out of the crisis with energy, or oomph). This thrust the word into a fairly new political context: in Scholz’s lexicon, Wumms has become synonymous with a fairly hefty cash injection from the government.

In fact, in Scholzonomics, Wumms can even be seen as a new monetary unit. One Wumms is equivalent to €100 billion, while a Doppel-Wumms equates to €200 billion.

READ ALSO: How to remember the gender of German words

Use it like this:

Für viele Leute ist der Doppel-Wumms eine Erleichterung in schwierige Zeiten. 

The ‘Double-Whammy’ is a source of relief for many people in difficult times. 

Wird der Doppel-Wumms der Bundesregierung ausreichend sein, um die Energiekrise zu bewältigen? 

Will the government’s ‘Double Whammy’ be enough to solve the energy crisis?

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German phrase of the day: Es ist noch kein Meister vom Himmel gefallen

Anyone struggling with learning German (or any big skill) could use this popular piece of reassurance.

German phrase of the day: Es ist noch kein Meister vom Himmel gefallen

Why do I need to know this?

If you’re getting down on yourself for not doing something you are still learning just right – be it playing the piano or speaking German – you can gently comfort yourself with this phrase. Or you can confidently cite it to reassure your perfectionist friend or family member that they are indeed making great strides towards their goal.

What does it mean?

Literally translated as “There is still no master which has fallen from the sky,” the expression gets the idea across that no one is born – or comes pummeling down from the heavens – as an expert at something.

Rather they become a Meister (or at least halfway decent) through continuous hard work and discipline. 

READ ALSO: How to remember the gender of German words

The saying is similar to the also widely used “Übung macht den Meister” (Practice makes the master) or the English version: Practice makes perfect. 

Not surprisingly, Austrians and Germans – who pride themselves on industriously reaching their goals – have several other equivalent sayings. They include “Ohne Fleiß kein Preis” (There’s no prize without hard work) and “Von nichts kommt nichts” (Nothing comes out of nothing).

Where does it come from?

The popular phrase can be traced back to the Latin “Nemo magister natus”, or no one is born a master. Another version is “Nemo nascitur artifex” or no one is born an artist. This explains why so many languages have similar expressions.

What are some examples of how it’s used?

Sei nicht so streng mit dir selbst. Es ist noch kein Meister vom Himmel gefallen.

Don’t be so hard on yourself. No one is born perfect. 

Mein Trainer sagte, es sei noch kein perfekter Schwimmer vom Himmel gefallen.

My coach said that no one is born a perfect swimmer.

READ ALSO: Six German expressions to entice your Wanderlust