German word of the day: Geil

‘Geil’ is just about as omnipresent in Germany as bureaucracy and bratwurst.

German word of the day: Geil
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

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.

B: Geil!

A: There’s a party on this evening.

B: Sweet!

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.

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German word of the day: Kneipe

This is a spot you might visit at the end of the working day - or Feierabend.

German word of the day: Kneipe

Why do I need to know Kneipe?

Because you may be invited to one or need to find one on the map. 

What does it mean?

Die Kniepe, which sounds like this, is the name for a pub in German where people gather to drink beverages. This isn’t a fancy cocktail bar – it’s a neighbourhood watering hole, and forms part of the make-up of towns and cities across Germany. It’s usually unpretentious, often small and in some places – like Berlin – it can be smoky. In that case, you might see a a Raucherkneipe (smoking pub) sign on the door or window. 

The word has been around since the 18th century and is an abbreviation of Kneipschenke. A Kneipschenke was a super-cramped premise where guests had to pack in and sit squeezed together.

The noun Schenke is a tavern, while Kneipe is said to come from the verb kneipen meaning “to press together” or “be close together”, which has been documented in Middle German and is a loanword from the Middle Low German word knīpen. That word is related to High German’s kneifen, which means “to pinch”. 

Kneipen don’t always have the best reputation. You might also get some suspicious looks if you crash a very local Kneipe that is used to only serving regulars or Stammgäste. But they are usually friendly and charming, and give an insight into life in Germany. So perhaps ask your German friends for a tip on a cool Kneipe to visit. Just don’t expect the staff to speak English like you usually find in hipster bars! 

If you’re hungry, keep in mind that Kneipen usually don’t serve food. Pubs that do serve hot food are more likely to be called a Wirtschaft or Lokal.

You can also do a pub crawl (eine Kneipentour machen) if you can handle the amount of booze (or switch to non-alcoholic drinks). 

How to use it:

Treffen wir uns am Freitag nach Feierabend in der Kneipe.

Let’s meet in the pub on Friday after work finishes.

Ich gehe mit den Jungs in die Kneipe.

I’m going to the pub with the lads.