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From German Wanderjahr (journeyman’s year), from wandern (wander, trek) + Jahr (year).


  • IPA(key): /ˈvɑn.də(ɹ)ˌjɑː/, IPA(key): /ˈwɑn.də(ɹ)ˌjɑː/


wanderjahr (plural wanderjahrs or wanderjahre)

  1. A year-long period of travel, especially following one’s education and prior to seeking employment.
  2. (historical) A year spent by an apprentice travelling and honing skills prior to the professional practice of a trade.


  • 1927, Harold Speakman, Mostly Mississippi, page 271
    “…In Europe, after college they have a Wanderjahr. Well, this is a Wanderjahr. It’s … wonderful!”
  • 2003, John Allen, Homelessness in American Literature: Romanticism, Realism and Testimony, page 3:
    [W]ith wandering blind Homers, peripatetic Cynics, homeless rhapsodists, drifting jongleurs, mendicant goliards, rhyming beggars, fluent picaros, itinerant preachers imitating Christ, literary students on a wanderjahr, restless romantic poets, footloose folk singers, exiled revolutionary memorialists, artistic mariners, professional literary hobos and aspiring hitchhiker novelists – among others! – large parts of our significant literature have found the muse on the road, if not down-and-out in the streets. (77)
  • 2005, Gore Vidal et alios, Conversations with Gore Vidal, page 3:
    The Judgment of Paris is an account of a young American’s wanderjahr in Europe, crowded with amusing characters and incidents.
    2016 Awkward Abroad, Regis Sprockett, ..."Inspired by Bill Bryson's Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe, I have endeavored to paint a wanderjahr portrait of an American traveler who clumsily wends his way across several cultures, a comic vagabond at once gloomy and introspective like Edgar Allan Poe, and ridiculous like any American fraternity boy on spring break, with some Benny Hill and National Lampoon's European Vacation thrown in for good measure."