German Language Blog

Germany’s Youth Word 2020 Posted by on Jan 6, 2021 in Culture, Language

Guten Tag! Every year, the Langenscheidt dictionary selects a word it calls the Jugendwort des Jahres – Germany’s Youth Word of the Year. This is separate from the Wort des Jahres (Word of the Year), also picked by Langenscheidt. For the Jugendwort des Jahres, people have the opportunity to vote from a selection of shortlisted teen slang, and then the winner is picked by a jury. Germany’s Youth Word 2020 was revealed recently, so today we’ll be looking at that, plus the other contenders for the title. This is a great way to get an insight into the German spoken today by young people – it’s not something you would find in a textbook, for example! For Wort des Jahres 2020, click here.

Image by Devin Avery on Unsplash.

Germany’s Youth Word (Jugendwort des Jahres) 2020 is:


Yes, it is an English word, as a lot of German youth slang usually is! But the word ‘lost’ is not new to the German language, so why have German teenagers been saying it so much this year that it earnt itself the title of Jugendwort des Jahres?

Langenscheidt explains:

„Vielleicht passt das diesjährige Jugendwort des Jahres auch ganz gut in die aktuelle Situation, in der wir alle stecken. Womöglich sind wir durch Corona so „lost“, wie noch nie zuvor.”
“Perhaps this year’s youth word perfectly describes the current situation we are all in. Thanks to the Coronavirus, we are ‘lost’ like never before.”

Ways to say ‘lost’ (in the context of feeling hopeless, empty) in actual German include:

unsicher (unsure, unsteady, insecure)
ahnungslos (clueless)
aussichtslos (hopeless, desperate)

Germany’s Youth Word 2020 Runners-Up:

Schabernack – a practical joke, hoax, shenanigan

Mittwoch – Wednesday. Relating to a meme featuring a frog, containing the words ‘Es ist Mittwoch, meine Kerle’ (‘It is Wednesday, my dudes’).

Sauftrag – A planned drinking event. Sauftrag is a Kofferwort (portmanteau word) of the words der Auftrag (contract, job, mission) and saufen (to drink/guzzle, usually relating to alcohol).

Wild/Wyld – This has the same translation in English: wild. In German, the correct spelling is ‘wild’, but in youth slang there is a variation of it with a y: wyld. It is usually said with the word ‘zu’ in front of it: ‘Zu wyld’ – ‘too wild’. It is used when describing something perceived as crazy, or otherwise unusual.

No front – An English phrase used in German, meaning whatever has been said was not meant to offend and should not be taken personally.

Köftespieß – This relates to German rapper Xatar, who released a song with this title in 2020. The song begins with the lyrics:

“Was ist das Erste, was du machst, wenn du rauskommst?
Das Allererste, ich glaub’, ich geb’ mir ‘n schönen Kebap, so ‘n schönen Köftespieß”
“What’s the first thing you’ll do when you get out?
The first thing I think I’ll do is get myself a nice kebab, a nice Köftespieß (kofta skewer)”.

Diggah – A friend/mate

Cringe – Pretty self-explanatory. German words similar to the English ‘cringe’ are peinlich (embarassing) and the untranslatable German word Fremdscham, which you can read about here!

Mashallah – An Arabic word meaning ‘what God has willed’ (in German: ‘wie Gott wollte’, or ‘was Gott wollte’), often used to express gratitude or to congratulate someone.

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About the Author: Constanze

Servus! I'm Constanze and I live in the UK. I'm half English and half German, and have been writing about German language and culture on this blog since 2014. I am also a fitness instructor & personal trainer.