German Words of the Year
Wörter des Jahres
2007 - 2006 - 2005
Plus Complete Word Lists for Past Years
with English definitions / explanations
Below you'll find the year's top-ranked German words and expressions with an English explanation for expressions that may not be obvious to English-speakers. Each year's words and the German Word of the Year are selected and ranked by the Gesellschaft für deutsche Sprache (GfdS, the German Language Society). (See the full article for more about the GfdS selection criteria.)
Die Wörter des Jahres 2007
German Words of the Year for 2007
Also see the 2006 and 2005 words below.
WORT des JAHRES 2007
- Klimakatastrophe, die - The No. 1 word for 2007 reflects the growing concern about climate change and global warming in a year that saw the American Al Gore win a Nobel Prize for his efforts to increase awareness of the Klimakatastrophe (climate catastrophe) that now threatens the earth. Also see word No. 9.
- Herdprämie, die (stove bounty) - This derisive term came up during the debate over increasing the number of childcare facilities versus making it possible for more mothers to stay at home (at the stove) by paying parents Betreuungsgeld ("child-raising money"). NOTE: Herdprämie was also selected as the Unwort des Jahres for 2007.
- Raucherkneipe, die (smokers' bar) - In 2007 Germany debated something many people thought was impossible, a German smoking ban (Rauchverbot) in public buildings, restaurants and bars. The hot debate concerned protecting non-smokers (Nichtraucherschutz) from the usually smoky air in German bars and restaurants. Of course, some Germans said such a ban went too far.
- arm durch Arbeit (poor through work) - This phrase came up in the debate over setting a legal minimum wage for certain jobs in Germany to combat the problem of "the working poor."
- Dopingbeichte, die (doping confession) - Cycling is a popular sport in Germany and Europe, but it was not a good year for that sport. Because of the ongoing problems with doping by German and other cycling stars in the Tour de France, Germany's T-Mobile announced it would no longer sponsor cycling teams, despite a stiff monetary penalty for canceling its contract. The "Tour de Farce" could also have been a phrase of the year.
- Lustreisen, die (pleasure trips) - A scandal over the misuse of company funds for non-business travel by VW executives put this word in 6th place.
- Second Life, das - This is the English name for a "3D online digital world" Web site that allows people to lead a second life. It reflects the growing trend of people avoiding reality by turning to new possibilities on the Internet. (secondlife.com)
- Bundestrojaner, der - A critical term ("Federal Trojan horse") used in the debate over increased online surveillance, data tracking, and computer searches by German authorities and the federal government (Bundesregierung).
- spritdurstig (fuel thirsty) - Another environmental term, this adjective was heard often in the discussion about more fuel-efficient vehicles and the fact that many German autos are "spritdurstig."
- Alles wird Knut - This play on the German phrase "Alles wird gut" (Everything will be all right) is related to the German event of the year, the "Knut mania" that swept over Germany and much of the world after the birth of the polar bear nicknamed Knuddel-Knut (cuddly Knut) at the Berlin Zoo.
MORE > Unwort des Jahres
Die Wörter des Jahres 2006
German Words of the Year for 2006
Also see the 2005 words below.
WORT des JAHRES 2006
Fanmeile, die - The top word for 2006 reflects the spirit of the World Cup (WM) held in Germany in the summer of 2006. The term "Fanmeile" (fan mile) refers to the various locations where thousands of soccer fans from Germany and all over the world gathered to celebrate the games. See Germany Hosts the 2006 WM for more.
Generation Praktikum - This phrase, meaning "generation internship," arose as the result of a trend that forces many young Germans into insecure low-paying or non-paying internship jobs rather than being able to advance within the field they have prepared for.
Karikaturenstreit, der - The Danish Islamic "cartoon controversy" heated up at the beginning of 2006. Muslims and others in Germany and around the world were upset over depictions of Mohammed.
Rechtschreibfrieden, der - After years of strife over German spelling reform (Rechtschreibreform), 2006 was the year of an uneasy peace ("Frieden") and at least a temporary end to the debate between opponents and proponents of the reforms. (See Spelling Reform Timeline for more.)
Prekariat, das - This coinage, a play on the words das Prolitariat and prekär, is a new euphemism for the "underclass."
Bezahlstudium, das - In 2006 some German states (Bundesländer) introduced the new and unpopular concept of university tuition. Paying for their studies is something German students are not used to.
Problembär, der - The brown bear JJ1, popularly known as "Bruno, the problem bear," attracted attention when he became the first living wild bear to be spotted in Germany in 170 years! Bruno caused a sensation as he wandered from northern Italy across parts of Austria and Bavaria. Despite popular protests, on June 26, 2006 Bruno/JJ was shot and killed in Bavaria as a public nuisance, provoking even more protests. (Note: "JJ" was pronounced jay-jay in the German media, rather than the German yot-yot.)
Poloniumspuren (pl.) - The Russian polonium poisoning assassination mystery deepened when traces ("Spuren") of the radioactive substance polonium 210 also turned up in Hamburg, Germany.
Klinsmänner (pl.) - Jürgen Klinsmann (1964- ) was the coach of the World Cup German national team. This word refers to his team members as "Klins-men." Even though the Germans came in third, the team was popular with Germans.
schwarz-rot-geil! - Yet another influence of the 2006 World Cup. This popular catch phrase from the games is a play on the colors of the German flag (schwarz-rot-gold, black-red-gold). The German word "geil" ("horny") is slang for "great." During the World Cup the Germans became more comfortable with patriotic and fan "flag waving" than they had been in many years. Hosting the games somehow made it OK to be German again.
Die Wörter des Jahres 2005
German Words of the Year for 2005
WORT des JAHRES 2005
Bundeskanzlerin, die - The first choice for 2005 reflected not just the fact that a woman had become chancellor for the first time in German history, but also the interesting language issues the word brings up. Only a few decades ago, Angela Merkel would have been addressed as “Frau Bundeskanzler” rather than the feminine form (with -in) that is used today.
Wir sind Papst - This phrase (“We are Pope”) originated as a headline in the German tabloid Bild-Zeitung. It struck a chord with Germans and foreigners as a catchy way to announce the election of the new German Pope Benedict XVI.
Tsunami, der - Although the Asian tsunami disaster happened on Dec. 26, 2004, its impact carried over well into 2005. (It appeared as part of the Word of the Day on 29 Dec. 2004.)
Heuschrecken, die (pl.) - Then SPD chairman Franz Müntefering (now vice-chancellor) used the term “locusts” in criticizing foreign (U.S.) investors, whom he accused of buying up German companies only to “feed” on them and move on.
Gammelfleisch, das - “Spoiled meat” refers to a widespread meat scandal in Germany in 2005, in which some German meatpacking firms were selling outdated meat as fresh.
Jamaika-Koalition, die - Based on the colors of Jamaica's flag and a possible coalition made up of the CDU (black), FDP (yellow), and the Greens (ein Bündnis aus Union, FDP und Grünen).
hoyzern (verb) - This synonym for cheating comes from the name of soccer referee (Schiedsrichter) Robert Hoyzer, who caused a scandal when he admitted making bad calls in favor of certain teams.
suboptimal (adj/adv) - A term used by former chancellor Gerhard Schröder to describe his performance during a TV appearance after the Bundestag elections.
Telenovela, die - This Spanish word for “soap opera” became a trendy way to refer to such programs in German.
FC Deutschland 06, der - This term, a play on the typical name of German pro soccer teams, was used in the German PR campaign for the 2006 World Cup.
Source: Gesellschaft für deutsche Sprache (GfdS)
NEXT > German Words: 2002-2004 - Previous words
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Denglisch: When Languages Collide
A look at the growing tendency of borrowing English vocabulary in German, and the sometimes strange result known as "Denglisch."
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DAILY > German Word of the Day - Wort des Tages
MORE > English-German Glossaries for German vocabulary
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