‘Jamaika-Aus’ voted German Word of the Year for 2017

The Society for the German Language (GfdS) placed “Jamaica out” at the top of its list of the most important words of the year released on Friday.

‘Jamaika-Aus’ voted German Word of the Year for 2017
Photo: DPA.

The term not only stands for the collapse of talks to form a new government, it is also linguistically interesting, language experts at GfdS said.

This year's list of words that made the cut contain terms that are socially and politically relevant where frequent use of the words is less important, they added.

The word Jamaica took on significant meaning in Germany in 2017 as it was used to refer to the “Jamaica coalition” talks between political parties after the country’s general election in September.

The addition of the word “Aus,” translated in English to “out,” refers to the collapse in coalition talks between Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and Bavarian sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Green party and the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP).

In second place on the list is the term “Ehe für alle,” which means “Marriage for all.” In early October Germany celebrated its first gay marriages as same-sex unions became legal after decades of struggle.

Photo: DPA.

But the expression could be misinterpreted because “all” also includes children, said GfdS chairman Peter Schlobinski, explaining that the meaning of the word “marriage” has been broadened.

Nabbing bronze and coming in third place is the term #MeToo. Launched in the autumn, the hashtag was used in a global campaign triggered after accusations of sexual assault were made against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

When American actresses such as Alyssa Milano subsequently asked victims of sexual harassment and assault to show solidarity and come forward, the #MeToo hashtag went viral.

Victims wanted to draw attention to the scale of the problem, the GfdS said, explaining that the jury selects terms which hit the year’s “linguistic nerve” and “contribute to contemporary history.”

Last year, jurors picked “postfaktisch” (post-factual) as the word of 2016.

In 2015, “Flüchtlinge” (refugees) was chosen as the term that defined the year that saw record numbers of asylum seekers arrive in Germany.

Infographic: Statista

Two years prior to that, as the Statista chart above shows, “GroKo” was named the year’s most significant word – an abbreviation for the term “grand coalition” between the CDU/CSU and the SPD.

Now, four years later, a grand coalition between Merkel's conservatives and the Social Democrats is a possibility once more with the collapse in Jamaica coalition talks and the start of exploratory negotiations.

First awarded in 1971, the Word of the Year in Germany has been regularly chosen since 1977.

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

For members


How (and when) to swear like a German

We are certainly not advocating the use of these words, but they are important to know (in case anyone uses them against you). Here are some of the German words you certainly shouldn’t use with elderly in-laws.

How (and when) to swear like a German
"Are you talking to me?" Photo: DPA


We’ll start with a word so common you’ve probably even heard some embarrassing politicians use it as they try to get down wid da kids

Geil is used to mean “cool” or “wow”. To show extreme approval, you can draw it out and say guy-el. The word literally means “horny”. It is often used in the following phrase “ej, du geile Sau”, which is a pretty crude way of telling someone you find them attractive (hey, you horny pig).

Our advice: be careful with this word! As common as “geil” is in everyday slang, it could still cause your conservative father-in-law to choke on his Lebkuchen during Christmas dinner.

READ ALSO: Nerdy flowers to alcoholic birds: the 12 most colourful German insults


This one is a shout out to all the old Bavarian men out there. “Kruzifix!” or “Sakrament!” is something you shout out in pain in the southern state if you’ve stubbed a toe or accidentally hit your finger with a hammer.

Our rule: don’t scream this word out in the presence of a priest. Avoid using on Sundays.


Here is a classic German joke for you: An American tourist driving through the German countryside is lost. He pulls up at a farm and shouts to the nearest farm hand “Hey Mister, I need some help.” The puzzled farmhand replies “Ich bin nicht der Mister, ich bin der Melker.”

The joke being – a Mekler is someone who milks the cows. A Mister would theoretically be someone he cleans out the Mist, the manure.

The word Mist, which you mutter when something has gone wrong, literally dung, is even an acceptable word for children to use and is equivalent to “flip or “darn it” in English.

Our advice: one to avoid if you’re trying to impress teenagers, otherwise safe.

Leck mich!

This is an abbreviated version of a sentence that is just a bit too rude to appear in a news publication of our standing.

It means “lick me.” Let’s put it this way, it’s not a sexy invitation to someone to lick chocolate from your chest. It refers instead to a less appetising brown substance and essentially means “f*** off!”

We don’t know what Baden-Württemberg’s former culture minister, Gabriele Warminski-Leitheußer, was saying here… but we’re pretty sure we know what she means. Photo: DPA


This word belongs to the fantastic German tradition of making up insults to throw at people based on perceived cowardly behaviour.

A Schattenparker is literally someone who parks in a shadow. Sensible behaviour, one might think. Not to the hardy German though – parking in shadow proves you can’t take the heat.

Famed members of this very manly collection are Warmduscher (warm showerer) and Frauenversteher (woman understander) – even if these should not exactly be insults. You can make up just about anything to add to the list, as this website proves.

Our advice: throw in a few original ones at Christmas dinner and German relatives will be cooing at the progress you’re making in German.


This word is the equivalent to the English expression “as thick as two planks.” You use it to insult someone’s intelligence “Ej, du Vollpfosten”, which means “hey, thicko”, or literally “you big pole”.

Our advice: One to keep in your arsenal if a driver cuts you off on your cycle to work and then fails to apologise.

“Ey, du Vollpfosten!” Photo: DPA


We all know the German word for shit, but one of its most appealing qualities is the fact that you can stick it to the front of just about any noun to indicate disapproval. “Der Scheißkerl” means “that arsehole”, but you can add it to anything, really. Scheißwetter, Scheißaufgabe, Scheißauto… the possibilities are endless.

Our advice: have fun with this one.


A seasonally relevant one to end things. Literally “arse cold” – we’re not really sure why – but it’s a good way to hate on the long, grey German winter.

Our advice: will go down well with a Berliner if you want to show you’ve got a bit of Schnauze.