This colloquial word is commonly used by Germans of all ages and is an excellent way to make yourself sound like a native speaker.
At first glance, this word can confuse some non-native German speakers. If you look up ‘geil’ in a dictionary you will likely find a translation along the lines of horny or lecherous. Whilst this is certainly the original use of this word, colloquially ‘geil’ is far more complimentary.
The best translation for ‘geil’ in its colloquial sense would be something like ‘great,’ ‘cool,’ ‘awesome,’ or ‘wicked.’ It can also be used to compliment someone’s appearance, similar to calling someone ‘hot.’
‘Geil’ is often used on its own as a response to something, to imply the person thinks that thing is great or cool.
This word is so commonly used in its colloquial form that it is very much a part of the mainstream, even being included in the following 2014 advert for the popular German supermarket Edeka.
It is not clear when exactly ‘geil’ shifted in meaning and became a popular colloquial adjective but Bruce and Bongo’s song ‘Geil’ from 1986 shows that this word lost its original meaning a while ago.
As ‘geil’ is such a popular adjective there are a number of adverbs it is often compiled with. The most popular combinations are probably ‘super geil,’ ‘mega geil,’ and ‘echt geil.’ All of these emphasise just how great something is.
The German musician Deichkind coined the term ‘leider geil’ in his song of the same name. This phrase encompasses the idea that something is ‘unfortunately’ cool, despite the fact that it has negative connotations or effects. Below is the official video.
A: Heute abend gibt es ein Party.
A: There’s a party on this evening.
Dieses Essen ist mega geil oder?
This food is really awesome isn’t it?
Gestern war der Film super geil, ich würde dir ihn wirklich empfehlen.
The film yesterday was super good, I’d really recommend it to you.
Der Alkoholkonsum ist ungesund aber leider geil.
Drinking alcohol is unhealthy but unfortunately it’s cool.