New Word Wednesday: müde, and mnemonics!

Happy Wednesday! Here’s your new word for the week, along with some language learning tips:


müde adjective, German

  • tired, weary


Since German is the first language I’ve started to learn from scratch since middle school, I’ve been figuring out the techniques that work best for me for language learning. One method that works really well is coming up with mnemonics for new words. A mnemonic is a pattern, story, or other aid to help in learning something: for example, ROYGBIV for the colors of the rainbow. Often these are very individualized: what works well for one person might be totally useless for someone else.

In this case, I use mnemonics to help remember words. For müde, it sounds similar to “moody”, and when I’m tired, I get moody. Easy enough, I can remember that! So when I need the word for “tired”, I can remember being “moody” and get to the German word. Similarly, if I see müde, I remember that it sounds like “moody” and know it means “tired”.

Of course, it’s easy enough with a word like this. For others, like “unterschiedlich” (“different”), it gets a bit more tricky! Some mnemonics involve making up longer stories that can bring the word to mind. I saw a mnemonic someone had created for unterschiedlich which involved a picture of a woman holding a man’s arm up and licking his armpit. The caption said “under she’d lick…that’s different”. Oddly enough, it worked really well and I haven’t forgotten that word! Usually the more bizarre and unique you can make your mnemonics, the easier they are to remember.

Making mnemonics is definitely a skill that takes practice. The more you do it, the more quickly you can come up with a memory aid. At first it can take several minutes per word, but the benefits quickly get realized in quicker recall and longer retention than through rote memorization. It’s well worth the extra effort!


So, enjoy your new word and have fun learning lots of new ones!


  • H




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