Word of the Week 1-9-2018




a year or period of travel, especially following one’s schooling and before practicing a profession.

(formerly) a year in which an apprentice traveled and improved his skills before settling down to the practice of his trade.


When your father finished college, he had his Wanderjahr, a fine year’s ramble up the Rhine and down the Loire, with a pretty girl on one arm and a good comrade on the other.  ~Walker Percy, The Moviegoer, 1961

She has to be bored by Billshe’s probably pleased with the daughterand increasingly worried about the son, as his Wanderjahr has become a Wander life. ~Michael Cunningham, By Nightfall, 2010


Wander-year, the English translation of German Wanderjahr, was first recorded in English about 1880. Its German original entered English about a dozen years later. Like the German noun, wander-years meant the period between one’s finishing artisanal training or graduation from university and the beginning of one’s career. German and English wander derive from the Proto-Indo-European root wendh- “to turn, weave,” the source of “wind” (the verb) and “wend,” whose past tense, “went,” now serves as the past tense of the verb “to go.” Year and Jahr derive from the Proto-Indo-European root yēr- “year, season,” source of Greek hṓrā “period, season,” adopted into Latin as hōra “hour” (of varying length), the source, through Old French of English “hour.”


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