German teens pick misspelling of ‘I am’ as coolest word of the year

Youngsters across the country have had their say and the jury has made their final decision; ‘I bims’ is Germany’s 2017 Youth Word.

German teens pick misspelling of 'I am' as coolest word of the year
Photo: DPA.

The expression means ‘Ich bin’ (I am) in the German language, dictionary publisher Langenscheidt announced on Friday.

The popular slang phrase derives from the language which Internet users on social networks use that involve the shortening of words and sentences and deliberately misspelled words, the publisher added.

“It's very widespread and everyone says it,” said 15-year-old blogger Livia Kerp.

The term came out on top despite the fact it only ranked in tenth place in the first round of votes.

In an online poll which ended on Wednesday, it was down to the public to pick from a list of 30 contenders all vying for the title of best word amongst youth in Germany.

Then on Friday morning, a jury of 20 people met to decide on the final winner according to criteria such as linguistic creativity, originality and societal and cultural relevance.

After hours of deliberation, ‘I bims’ took gold in first place, beating out other expressions in the top ten such as a ‘selfiecide,’ ‘tinderjährig’ and 'napflixen' (a nap during a movie).

'Geht fit' – the term that came in first place in the poll – was too regional for jury member David Berger, who said it was not spoken widely enough outside the Ruhr area of Germany. 

'I bims' is much more familiar, the 19-year-old member of the jury for the past three years added.

According to Langenscheidt, approximately one million votes had been cast in this year’s poll – more than ever before.

Each year since 2008 German teens have had the chance to select a word that they dub to be the cool new word of the year.

Last year’s jury of high school students, YouTube stars, linguists, journalists and teachers chose 'fly sein,' meaning to be fly, as the hippest new word coined by youth across ‘Schland.

The 2015 Youth German Word was ‘Smombie,’ meaning a person who stares at their smartphone for hours on end like zombies

In 2014, ‘Läuft bei dir’ was coined the hippest term. Meant to be an expression of appreciation, the phrase loosely translates to ‘you’ve got it’ or simply, ‘cool.’

The year before that, a term that could be used in place of calling someone a leader or a boss – ‘babo’ – was crowned the winner.

And much to the annoyance of educators and organizations promoting the proper use of the German language, ‘YOLO’ (short for you only live once) was voted the most popular new expression among youngsters across the Bundesrepublik in 2012.

For members


The new German words that perfectly describe the coronavirus pandemic

From Impfneid (vaccine envy) to Abstandbier (socially distanced beer), these words are so hot right now.

The new German words that perfectly describe the coronavirus pandemic

It’s often said that the Germans have a word for everything – and that’s true in corona times as well. Around 200 new words including Impfneid (vaccine envy) and Abstandbier (socially distanced beer) have been added to a list of new words by the Leibniz Institute for the German language.

1. When it’s all become too much.

For those feeling overwhelmed by the year-long pandemic, there is Coronaangst (Corona anxiety), coronamüde (corona tired) or überzoom (too much zoom).

2. Love in the time of corona

If you have a specific cuddle partner, they are your Kuschelkontact (cuddle contact). More bleakly, Todesküsschen (little kiss of death) has became synonymous with a friendly kiss on the cheek.

3. Keeping your distance from everybody

The term Babyelefant is now a common concept for anyone living in Austria, where we are urged to keep a “baby elephant’s” distance from one another.

A CoronaFußgruß (corona foot greeting) has replaced the traditional handshake upon meeting people. 

4. Panic at the start of the first lockdown

The process of the pandemic can be tracked through new words emerging. At the beginning of lockdown last March, the word Hamsteritis (hamster buying) was widely used, referring to panic buying as similar to a hamster filling its cheeks with food to eat later.

Added to that was Klopapierhysterie, or hysteria over toilet paper running about.

5. Balcony entertainment

As people began singing from their balconies during the spring lockdown, the word Balkonsänger (balcony singer) came into use, along with Balkonklatscher (balcony clapper) Balkonkonzert (balcony concert) and of course Balkonmusik (balcony music).

6. Watching sport during the pandemic

You might want to try out an Abstandsjubeltanz, loosely translated as a socially distanced choreographed dance when celebrating your football team’s win.

7. Mask wearing

The Germans have adopted the British term Covidiot, but have a more specific word of Maskentrottel (mask idiot), for someone who wears their face covering under their nose. A mask worn this way can also be described as a Kinnwärmer or chin warmer.

A mask worn correctly is sometimes referred to as a Gesichtskondom (face condom).

8. Waiting forever for a vaccine

Germany and the EU’s slow vaccine rollout has led to many experiencing Impfneid or vaccine envy as other countries race ahead in vaccinating their citizens. 

The words were found by the team of researchers by combing through press reports, social media and the wider internet.

You can find the whole list of new words here