If you hear the word Prima in Germany, it probably means you’ve done something right. This term translates to ‘great’ or ‘top-notch’ and is often used as a stand-alone response to good news.
The word originally comes from the latin Primus, meaning first or premier. In German, Prima can also be used as a noun and usually refers to the last two years of secondary school, the equivalent of sixth-form education.
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In its adjective form, the word has actually been borrowed from modern Italian, taken from phrases such as prima sorte, meaning products of the highest quality. The adjective in German is therefore also used to denote the best of the best.
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If they were lucky, German school students will be quite familiar with the word, as it is often used by teachers when a pupil has produced particularly good work. An A-grade essay is likely to be littered with scrawls of Prima! when it is returned to the student.
Used more colloquially, you are likely to hear this word when you give someone particularly good news. Announcing to a friend that you have booked a dream holiday for the both of you would definitely be likely to trigger a shout of Prima!
The word can be used quite casually as an adjective or adverb, in place of toll or super (great), or großartig (fantastic) and comes up quite regularly in conversation with locals.
Das hast du prima gemacht!
You did that so well!
Ich habe prima geschlafen.
I slept amazingly.
Everything was/is great.