The word of the year (German: Wort des Jahres) is an annual publication by the Gesellschaft für deutsche Sprache, established in 1971 (on a regular basis since 1977). Each December, a German word or word group is named in a linguistic review of the year.
|Year||Word of the year
|1971||aufmüpfig||Rebellious, insubordinate||Characterization of the 1960s counterculture, especially the German student movement|
|1977||Szene||Scene, community||Reference to a number of news-making communities, e.g. drug scene, gay scene, disco scene|
|1978||konspirative Wohnung||Conspirative apartment||Reference to the hideout of the kidnappers of Hanns Martin Schleyer, which the police failed to locate|
|1979||Holocaust||Holocaust||The original broadcast of the American TV miniseries Holocaust, which led to an increased public interest in Nazi crimes.|
|1980||Rasterfahndung||Dragnet investigation||Proposed measures for computer-aided searches for wanted criminals that led to a heated political and public debate about information privacy.|
|1981||Nulllösung||Zero Option||Reference to a proposal by then-President of the United States Ronald Reagan for the withdrawal of all Soviet and US intermediate-range nuclear missiles from Europe|
|1982||Ellenbogengesellschaft||Literally "elbow society", dog eat dog competition||Term used by critics who feared a culture lacking social skills was growing, which emphasized egoism, ruthlessness, and competitiveness|
|1983||Heißer Herbst||Hot/heated autumn||Reference to a series of large-scale protests against the NATO Double-Track Decision and the strengthening peace movement|
|1984||Umweltauto||Environment-friendly car, low-energy vehicle||Reference to one of the topics of the environmental movement|
|1985||Glykol||Diethylene glycol||The toxic additive uncovered in a widespread wine adulteration scandal.|
|1987||AIDS, Kondom||AIDS and condom||The growing media attention paid to the spreading HIV/AIDS disease and subsequent campaign for safe sex|
|1988||Gesundheitsreform||Healthcare reform||Reference to the dominant political discussion of that year|
|1989||Reisefreiheit||Freedom of travel||Peaceful Revolution, which was achieved with the fall of the Berlin Wall|
|1990||Die neuen Bundesländer||The new German states||Brandenburg, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, which became part of the Federal Republic of Germany in the German reunification|
|1991||Besserwessi||Compound of besser ("better") and Wessi (informal term for a citizen of West Germany), thus resembling the German word Besserwisser ("know-it-all", "smart arse")||A perception by former citizens of East Germany in the post-reunification period that their lifetime achievements under Communist rule were regarded as inferior and valueless by West Germans|
|1992||Politikverdrossenheit||Indifference to politics||Perceived political indifference from decreasing voter turnouts and party membership numbers|
|1993||Sozialabbau||Reduction of social benefits||Reference to austerity measures taken by the conservative government of Helmut Kohl|
|1994||Superwahljahr||super election year||The environment of perpetual election campaign for politicians, due to a federal election, European parliament election, and eight state elections converging in 1994|
|1995||Multimedia||Multimedia||Buzzword used for state-of-the-art developments in computer and digital technology|
|1996||Sparpaket||Austerity package||The dominance in political discussions of the time about how to shoulder the immense follow-up costs of the German reunification|
|1997||Reformstau||Literally "reform jam"||The perceived political standstill during the later years of the Kohl government|
|1998||Rot-Grün||Red-green||Reference to the coalition government of Social Democrats and Greens, led by newly elected chancellor Gerhard Schröder|
|1999||Millennium||Millennium||The term was used as an ubiquitous buzzword in public anticipation of the year 2000|
|2000||Schwarzgeldaffäre||Literally "black money affair"||Reference to the donations scandal of the Christian Democratic Party, with Helmut Kohl as its key figure|
|2001||Der elfte September||September 11||Reference to the September 11 attacks|
|2002||Teuro||Portmanteau of teuer ("expensive", "pricey") and Euro||The widespread public perception that the currency changeover from the Deutsche Mark to the Euro had led to a hidden price increase|
|2003||Das alte Europa||The old Europe||A term coined by then U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, referring to European countries that did not support the 2003 invasion of Iraq|
|2004||Hartz IV||Name of a highly controversial set of reforms of the German labor market|
|2005||Bundeskanzlerin||Female form of "Federal Chancellor"||Angela Merkel became the first woman to hold the post of German chancellor|
|2006||Fanmeile||Literally "fan mile"||Reference to public screenings of the matches of the 2006 FIFA World Cup, which attracted hundreds of thousands of spectators|
|2007||Klimakatastrophe||Climate catastrophe||Reference to the worst possible outcome of the global warming, which came to widespread public attention, mainly due to the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report and the documentary film An Inconvenient Truth|
|2008||Finanzkrise||Financial crisis||The dominance of the financial crisis of 2007–08 in political discussions that year|
|2009||Abwrackprämie||Scrapping bonus||Reference to a political measure to help the automobile industry through the Great Recession, which saw a bonus of €2,500 for those buying a brand new car and scrapping the old one instead of reselling it|
|2010||Wutbürger||Compound of Wut ("anger", "rage") and Bürger ("citizen") - literally "enraged citizen"||Stereotype of middle-aged, socially and financially secure people without any previous experience in attending demonstrations, who protest in the streets in an emotional, heated manner (especially characterizing the opponents of the Stuttgart 21 project)|
|2011||Stresstest||Stress test||A reference to a series of unrelated stability simulations: the 2011 European Union bank stress test, a reassessment of nuclear power stations following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, and the arbitration process concerning Stuttgart 21.|
|2012||Rettungsroutine||Literally "rescue routine"||A rarely used term coined by German politician Wolfgang Bosbach, criticizing the series of measures addressing the European debt crisis that passed the Bundestag in a rushed manner, possibly without sufficient debate and consideration of alternatives|
|2013||GroKo||Acronym for Große Koalition ("grand coalition")||A reference to the upcoming governmental coalition in the Bundestag, formed by CDU/CSU and SPD|
|2014||Lichtgrenze||Literally light border||art installation by Christopher Bauder, tracing the path of the Berlin Wall as part of the celebrations of the 25th anniversary of its Fall.|
|2015||Flüchtlinge||Refugees||European migrant crisis, with refugees of the Syrian Civil War and other refugees, asylum seekers and forcibly displaced people arriving in European Union countries, to varying degrees of welcome. In 2015, some 40% of these arrivals applied for asylum in Germany.|
|2016||postfaktisch||post truth||A reference to the increasing tendency to form opinions based on emotions rather than facts in political and public discourse. More and more people are turning so reluctant towards "those on top" that they become willing to ignore facts and accept even open lies eagerly. Not claims to the truth, but openly daring to speak the "felt truth" leads to success in a post-truth age. The Brexit campaign's thriving partially on deliberate misinformation, as well as discriminatory remarks and untrue claims (such as President Barack Obama supposedly having founded ISIS) leading to the victory of Donald Trump in the 2016 United States presidential election, are cited as recent examples of this phenomenon.|
|2017||Jamaika-Aus||end of the Jamaica coalition||A reference to the failure of preliminary talks for negotiations a coalition government between the Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU), Free Democratic Party (FDP), and the Green Party factions, represented by the colors black, yellow, and green, respectively, as found in the Flag of Jamaica, and the public announcement thereof.|
|2018||Heißzeit||"hot time / heat age", i.e. hothouse earth||A reference to the 2018 European heat wave, which was considered by many Germans to last from April to November. It is also supposed to hint at one of the gravest global phenomena of the early 21st century: climate change. Last but not least, "Heißzeit" is an interesting word creation - phonologically analogous to "Eiszeit" ("ice age"), the expression acquires an epochal dimension transcending the literal meaning of "time interval during which it is hot" and potentially points to a changing climatic period.|
|2019||Respektrente||"respect pension"||"It refers to pensioners being able to enjoy their retirement with dignity after many years of hard work.""|
|2020||Corona-Pandemie||"corona[virus] pandemic"||A reference to the COVID-19 pandemic that affected most of the world and weakened most countries' economies.|
- "Wort des Jahres" (in German). Gesellschaft für deutsche Sprache.
- "Ein Jahr, ein (Un-)Wort!". Spiegel Online (in German).
- "The German Word of the Year". About.com.
- "'Climate Catastrophe' is the Word of the Year in Germany". Atlantic Review. 8 December 2007.
- "'Klimakatastrophe' picked as Germany's word of year". Reuters. 7 December 2007.
- "'Finanzkrise' German word of the year". The Local. 11 December 2008.
- "'Abwrackprämie' named word of the year". The Local. 18 December 2009.
- "'Wutbürger' named word of the year". The Local. 17 December 2010.
- "'Stresstest' is German word of the year". The Local. 16 December 2011.
- "8 Words of the Year from Other Countries". Mental Floss. 9 January 2013.
- "GroKo ist Wort des Jahres". Süddeutsche Zeitung (in German). 13 December 2013. Retrieved 13 December 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "185 000 first time asylum seekers in the EU in the first quarter of 2015". Eurostat. 18 June 2015.
- "Wort des Jahres 2016". Gesellschaft für deutsche Sprache. Retrieved 3 January 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Wort des Jahres 2017". Gesellschaft für deutsche Sprache. Retrieved 16 January 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Wort des Jahres 2018". Gesellschaft für deutsche Sprache. Retrieved 3 January 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "This is the 'German word of the year' for 2019". Retrieved 14 August 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Wort des Jahres 2019". Gesellschaft für deutsche Sprache. Retrieved 14 August 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Wort des Jahres 2020: Corona-Pandemie". DW.com. Retrieved 4 February 2021.