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From Middle High German smerze f, m, from Old High German smerza f, smerzo m, from Proto-Germanic. Cognate with Dutch smart, English smart.


  • IPA(key): /ʃmɛʁts/, [ʃmɛɐ̯ts]
  • (file)


Schmerz m (genitive Schmerzes, plural Schmerzen)

  1. (chiefly plural) physical pain, ache (practically, as a sensation)
    Haben Sie Schmerzen?Do you feel pain?
    Das waren die schlimmsten Schmerzen, die ich je erlebt habe.That was the worst pain I have ever felt.
  2. (chiefly singular) physical pain (theoretically, as a bodily mechanism or function)
    Schmerz ist ein Alarmsignal des Körpers.Pain is an emergency signal of the body.
    Konditionierung durch Schmerzconditioning by pain
  3. (chiefly singular) emotional pain, sorrow, heartache
    Man lebt weiter, aber der Schmerz bleibt.You live on, but the pain remains.

Usage notes[edit]

  • (physical pain as a sensation): While the plural is the normal choice, the singular is not altogether impossible in this sense. In specific contexts it may even fairly common, e.g. referring to chronic pain or, conversely, a sudden shot of pain, etc.


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