Sturm und Drang


ˌshtu̇rm-u̇nt-ˈdräŋ How to pronounce Sturm und Drang (audio)
: a late 18th century German literary movement characterized by works containing rousing action and high emotionalism that often deal with the individual's revolt against society

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Sturm und Drang comes from German, where it literally means "storm and stress." Although it’s now a generic synonym of "turmoil," the term was originally used in English to identify a late 18th-century German literary movement whose works were filled with rousing action and high emotionalism, and often dealt with an individual rebelling against the injustices of society. The movement took its name from the 1776 play Sturm und Drang, a work by one of its proponents, dramatist and novelist Friedrich von Klinger. Although the literary movement was well known in Germany in the late 1700s, the term "Sturm und Drang" didn’t appear in English prose until the mid-1800s.

Examples of Sturm und Drang in a Sentence

in a year filled with corporate Sturm und Drang, the company was headed by no fewer than three different CEOs
Recent Examples on the Web Months removed from the Sturm und Drang, Gelfond’s detractors have come around. Rebecca Rubin, Variety, 4 Apr. 2024 There was none of the Sturm und Drang of last year, at least, when the White House went back and forth with Fox Corp. over whether Biden would sit for an interview. Bill Goodykoontz, The Arizona Republic, 9 Feb. 2024 The play seems to speak directly to our current culture wars concerning race and history, in schools and beyond, from the Sturm und Drang over the New York Times’s 1619 Project to Rufo’s farcical witch-hunting with respect to critical race theory. Vinson Cunningham, The New Yorker, 16 May 2022 Subways and commuter trains rumbling by the stadiums, planes from LaGuardia roaring above and crowds screaming from the stands represent the Sturm und Drang that goes with carrying the hopes and expectations of the hometown fans. Matthew Futterman, New York Times, 27 Aug. 2023 Mulaney, now 40 years old, sober, and healthier-looking, emerged from the Sturm und Drang with an hour and change of new material that he’s brought to the eyes of the world in John Mulaney: Baby J, a wonderfully candid Netflix stand-up special premiering April 25. Marlow Stern, Rolling Stone, 25 Apr. 2023 But amid the Sturm und Drang of America’s broken politics, some things are becoming clearer. Karl Rove,, 5 Apr. 2023 With all the choices consumers have and all the Sturm und Drang around Penney in the last decade, why do customers even need you? Phil Wahba, Fortune, 23 Mar. 2023 The implication—that an NME story may have shaped the Sturm und Drang, and maybe even the acute suicidal ideation, of the era’s most iconic rock star—is both gruesome and tantalizing, speaking perversely to the outsize impact of the rock critic. John Semley, The New Republic, 18 Nov. 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'Sturm und Drang.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


German, literally, storm and stress, from Sturm und Drang (1776), drama by Friedrich von Klinger †1831 German novelist and dramatist

First Known Use

1845, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of Sturm und Drang was in 1845


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Cite this Entry

“Sturm und Drang.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Apr. 2024.

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