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Germany's Words Of The Year


Each year in mid-December the Gesellschaft für deutsche Sprache (GdS) of Germany selects the top ten words that demonstrate the hot issues that marked German society during that year. In 2012 they were the following:
(see last year’s Wörter des Jahres or other Wörter des Jahres from past years.)

    Rettungsroutine: rescue-routine

    This word accurately reflects the ongoing dilemma of the unstable European financial market in the past few years. This rescuing has not only become a constant repetitive need, but part of a routine, hence ite name.

    Kanzlerpräsidentin (Chancellor president): The media’s term for Angela Merkel’s style of governance - a term coined from her official position as ‘Bundeskanzlerin’ and that of a ‘Bundespräsidenten’.

    Bildungsabwendungsprämie. (education + avoidance + subsidy)

    The hot topic in Germany last year of CSU’s plan to give child allowance in 2013 to those families who decide not to put their child in day-care, gave rise to the expression Bildungsabwendungsprämie by their opponents.

    Schlecker-Frauen (Schlecker-women)

    This is the nickname of those women who lost their jobs when the drug company Schlecker went bankrupt in early 2012. These Schlecker-Frauen received much media attention in the months following as to their course of action in the job market.


    This is a new verb in the German language, much in style and with a sarcastic edge. It stems from the behaviour of former Bundespräsident Christian Wulff, who lost much public confidence last year due to his behavior. “Wulffen” has at least two meanings, thanks to Christian Wulff’s actions:

    - when someone blasts you on your answering machine
    - when you purposefully confuse someone with half-truths.

    Netzhetze (InterNet-hounding)

    Netzhetze refers to the increasing number of cyber bullying, threats, attacks aimed at individuals, groups, companies, and to non-Germans by Neo-Nazis. Similar in meaning, “Shitstorm” used both in English and German, was included as one of Switzerland’s top ten words of the year.

    Gottesteilchen (God-particle)

    This word became popular in mid 2012 with the discovery of the long-sought Higgs boson particle that gives matter to mass and which scientists believe may hold answers to the cosmic puzzle.

    Punk-Gebet (Punk-prayer)

    The feminist Russian punk band „Pussy Riot“ made worldwide headlines when they were thrown in jail for their short illegal anti—government performance in a Moscow church that later went viral.

    Fluch-Hafen (cursed-port)

    Fluch-Hafen is a play on the German word “Flughafen” meaning airport. Due to the several postponements of the opening of Berlin’s Willy Brandt airport, and thereby the cost of its construction as well, Germans have nicknamed it the “Fluch-Hafen.”

    Ziemlich beste (seemingly best)

    This expression made its way into the German language after the launching of the successful film “Ziemlich beste Freunde.” What is unique about this phrase is the diminishment of the superlative “beste”.

Peter Dausend of Zeitonline cleverly stringed almost all (he omitted “Gottesteilchen”) of the Wörter des Jahres into the following sentence:
Wenn die Kanzlerpräsidentin mit ihrer Rettungsroutine eine Bildungsabwendungsprämie für wulffende Schlecker-Frauen auszahlen lässt, dann müssen wir nur noch ziemlich beste Punk-Gebete via Netzhetze in Richtung Fluch-Hafen Schönefeld ausstoßen.

When the chancellor-president pays out - through the rescue-routine - an education avoidance subsidy to the “wulffie” Schlecker-women, then we must send out seemingly good Punk-prayers via the internet shitstorm in the direction of the cursed port Schönefeld.

Austria, Switzerland and Lichtenstein also create a words of the year list each year. You can find these at the following German links:

Österreich - Wörter des Jahres 2012
Die Schweiz - Wörter des Jahres 2012
Lichtenstein - Wörter des Jahres 2012

Germany also has:
Unwort des Jahres
Jugendwort des Jahres
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