How did Germany's 10 top 'Youth Words of the Year' originate?

Rachel Stern
Rachel Stern - [email protected]
How did Germany's 10 top 'Youth Words of the Year' originate?
Annette Schwartzmanns, head of marketing at Langenscheidt, presents the 'Youth word of the year' on Friday.Photo: DPA

Langenscheidt-Verlag, a large publishing house that issues German dictionaries, has awarded their annual “Jugendwort des Jahres” - plus a few runner’s up.


Users could vote on their website, which presented a pre-selection of 30 words, later shortlisted to 10.

On Friday, Langenscheidt then chose the top word of 2018, through feedback from readers' and scouring social media. The winning entry went to (drum roll please):

Ehrenmann or Ehrenfrau

The first word, meaning gentleman or honourable man, has already been a word for a long time in German, whereas its female equivalent only recently came into being. The word is used to describe someone who has done something special for you.

Here are the other nine runners-up:

Verbuggt: When something is “bugged” in German, it does not necessarily have to be a computer program. Anything which is full of mistakes is indeed “bugged”.

Glucose-haltig: Literally meaning ‘glucose containing’, this is reserved for foods which are really sweet. Maybe if we all thought of our deserts like this, we wouldn’t be so tempted to ask for a second helping.

Lauch: This word refers to somebody who is scrawny. So to use a German-minded example, think of David Hasselhoff in his Baywatch days - triumphantly running, with a tan and toned body - and think the opposite. Lauch also happens to refer to a leek, as in the vegetable Germans love to eat in soup.

Another beloved German vegetable which has been turned into an insult is a "Spargeltarzan" (asperagus tarzan). And it means the exact same thing: A very thin man who has never seen the inside of a gym.

SEE ALSO: Nerdy flowers to alcoholic birds: The 12 most colourful German insults

Auf dein Nacken! If you’re at a cafe with a friend, and they proclaim this phrase (literally meaning “On your neck”), it means that they want you to pay. Yes, this is incorrect German grammar as some of you might have noticed, since the correct phrase would be “Auf deinen Nacken”. The phrase is said to have originated largely from Turkish youth in Germany, and shared often on social media - explaining its imperfect use.

AF (as f#@ck): Yes, this is expressed as it is in English in order to emphasize when something is particularly special. Let’s say you win tickets to see your favourite band in concert, in which you can proclaim that something is cool 'AF'.

Sheeesh: Whereas in English this word would have an annoyed connotation similar to “Gosh” or “Oh my”, it’s used in Germany to mean “Really?” or question anything, be it good or bad. The word in German actually stems from the Turkish word "çüş", which is uttered by Turkish and now German youths every time something rather unexpected happens. Still youths now write "sheesh" in chats whenever anything unexpected happens.

Küss dein Auge!: If someone tells you that they “kiss your eye” it means that they are really, really thankful for something that you’ve done for them - or that you are a true Ehemann or Ehefrau.

The saying also originated among Turkish youths, as it is a common saying in Turkey to express gratitude. Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan even used the expression ("Gözünü öpüyorum!" in the original Turkish) to praise Mesut Özil when he departed from Turkey’s national football team.

SEE ALSO: 10 ways of speaking German you'll only ever pick up on the street

Snackosaurus: Do you arrive home from work or school and devour a huge bag of crisps? Then you’re safely a Snackosaurus, or as the name connotes, someone who can’t stop chomping down.

Lindnern: This word, meaning to simply not do anything at all rather than do it poorly, originated from FDP leader Christian Lindner. Famously, Lindner backed down from joining the so called Jamaica coalition between CDU/CSU, the Green Party and FDP after the 2017 general election. Back then he had said, "Es ist besser, nicht zu regieren als schlecht zu regieren." (It’s better not to govern than to do it poorly). He was ridiculed after his stunt since the talks between the parties were already at an advanced stage before he pulled out at the last minute.

This marks the second time that traits of a top-level politician would have been turned into a verb as "merkeln" also meant something very similar: to never show initiative or take a side, but rather only act when you absolutely have to. On an international scale, "to merkel" even describes a diplomatic approach.



Comments (1)

Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

Anonymous 2018/11/20 12:18
What should be noticed is that barely anyone ever uses these words in Germany; most people (especially youngsters) actually think they are stupid. I don't actually know who sits in the jury, but I doubt that there are actually (enough) teens present. <br />Good article with nice explanations though! :)

See Also