German Language Blog

Germany’s Youth Word of 2016 Posted by on Nov 30, 2016 in Culture, Language

Guten Tag! You may remember last year I wrote about the Wort des Jahres (Word of the Year) and the Unwort des Jahres (Un-word of the Year – an offensive/negative word of the year) for 2014. These are published towards the end of each year by the Gesellschaft für deutsche Sprache (GfdS) – the Association for German Language. One thing I didn’t mention is the Jugendwort des Jahres – the German ‘Youth Word of the Year’ – so I’m bringing that to you today!

German flag

Photo by fdecomite on under a CC license (CC BY 2.0)

The Jugendwort des Jahres is published each year by Langenscheidt (they write dictionaries). You can enter your favourite German ‘youth word’ on the website, and then a jury selects the winner from the shortlisted words. The Jugendwort des Jahres is then revealed in November each year! You can even buy a dictionary each year full of Jugendwörter (teen slang)! Christmas present, perhaps?! 😉

Unlike the Wort des Jahres and the Unwort des Jahres, which more often than not hint at the country’s political goings-on, the Jugendwort des Jahres gives a snapshot into the lives of German teens and the slang they use.

Here is the winner of the Jugendwort des Jahres 2016:

Fly sein – ‘to be fly’.
This is an English loanword which has been around since the 1990s. It roughly means ‘to be cool’. It’s only just made its way into Germany and now German teens have adopted it as their Jugendwort of 2016!

Other shortlisted words include bae (Also adopted from English, ‘bae’ stands for ‘before anyone else’ and refers to a close friend/partner/someone very important to you), Isso (A short way of saying ‘Das ist so’, meaning ‘That’s how it is’), and Hopfensmoothie (Literally ‘hops smoothie’. This word pokes fun at the superfood/smoothie craze; a ‘hop smoothie’ is just a normal beer.)

erdinger.... beer?

Bier? No! A Hopfensmoothie! 😉 Photo by kharlamovaa on under a CC license (CC BY 2.0)

You’ll have to wait until next month to see the Wort des Jahres and the Unwort des Jahres 2016. But in case you’re wondering what the 2015 words were:

Wort des Jahres 2015: Flüchtlinge – Refugees. As the refugee situation was at the centre of German politics in 2015, I’d say there are no surprises here.

Unwort des Jahres 2015: Gutmensch – ‘Do-gooder’. This term was used sarcastically by followers of far-right movements such as PEGIDA to describe people who ‘do good’ by supporting refugees and fighting for a multicultural, multi-ethnic Germany.

What do you think of these words? Did the right words win, in your opinion? Leave me a comment below! 🙂

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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.


  1. Joseph T. Madawela:

    have more like this!