'I bims': German Youth Word of the Year 2017


2017: I bims

To be or not to be? Germany's young people would answer Shakespeare's most famous existential question with "I bims," derived from "Ich bin" — I am. It was chosen as the "Jugendwort des Jahres" (German Youth Word of the Year) in 2017.


2016: am Fly sein

When a person feels in a particularly high and sexy mood and is ready to, say, party all night, German teens will highlight this energy by borrowing from US hip-hop slang, literally saying "you're on fly." In English, "I'm so fly" is a rapper way of saying you're cool. It was embodied by the main character in the film "Super Fly" from 1972, with its famous Curtis Mayfield soundtrack.


2015: Smombie

Do you check your phone while you're walking and run into things? Then apparently you have something in common with German teens. The 2015 German Youth Word of the Year was "Smombie" — a cross between smartphone and zombie. Walking while checking for a new like, follow or message can be hazardous. Perhaps Germany should adopt this phone lane idea spotted in China.


2014: Läuft bei dir

As with most of the youth words of the year, this one can also contain traces of irony. If you say "läuft bei dir" to someone — basically "things are going well with you" — it probably means nothing is really as it should be. Maybe they were up all night on Snapchat and completely forgot to cram for their algebra test.


2013: Babo

Who's the leader of the pack among your friends? Chances are, they're the babo: that is, the boss, the ringleader, the head honcho. German rapper Haftbefehl (pictured) may also like to see himself as the babo. In 2013, he released a track called "Chabos know who the babo is." While "chabos" (roughly, guys) is derived from Angloromani, babo comes from Turkish.


2012: YOLO

In 2012, an English abbreviation won German Youth Word of the Year. YOLO stands for You Only Live Once. In that case, live it up. Maybe that means launching your singing career on YouTube, getting a colorful tattoo or just having another drink. The youths of 2012 couldn't care less about the consequences.


2011: Swag

It's not surprising that teen speak is heavily influenced by the music scene. Swag was borrowed from the American rap scene and made it over to Germany around 2010, becoming popular thanks to Austrian rapper Money Boy's track "Turn My Swag On." If you've got swag, you radiate coolness.


2010: Niveaulimbo

Ever played limbo? Then you know there's a limit to how far down you can go — even if you're really good. "Niveaulimbo" — literally, limbo level — refers to the ever-sinking quality of something. That could be a TV show, a joke or a party that just starts getting out of hand.


2009: Hartzen

Who says young people aren't interested in politics? In 2009, the Youth Word of the Year was a sharp social and political criticism. Derived from Hartz IV, the German welfare program, "hartzen" is a verb meaning "to be lazy."


2008: Gammelfleischparty

In 2005-2007, Germany experienced a number of rotten meat scandals mainly impacting doner kebab production. The 2008 Youth Word of the Year drew on the meat scares, but linked them to another youthful fear: getting older. A "Gammelfleischparty" (rotten meat party) refers to an event for adults over 30. Now doesn't that make you feel younger?

Every year, Germany's dictionary giant Langenscheidt selects the German Youth Word of the Year. In 2017, a new version of "I am" was singled out. Take a look at previous winners, as well as this year's candidates.

Every year since 2008, the German publisher Langenscheidt, specializing in dictionaries, has been selecting the "Jugendwort des Jahres" (Youth Word of the Year).

This year's winner is "I bims," a variation of "Ich bin," or I am, the publishing house revealed on Friday.

Teens are invited to submit their favorite terms each year, and 30 of them were preselected as potential candidates.

More than a million votes

While people could vote for their favorite expression online, the final decision was taken by a jury of 20 members. On the online voting platform, "I bims" came in 10th.

The most popular expression among voters was "Geht fit," which means that everything's good.

About a million people voted online this year, more than ever before, said Langenscheidt.

The gallery above reviews the terms that have been chosen since the beginning of the initiative. You can find out more about the words that were popularized this year by clicking through the gallery below.



Combining the words "selfie" and "suicide" and referring to a person who dies while trying to take a selfie, the term has also been used in English for several years. Compared to the people who've taken selfies on top of skyscrapers or while jumping off a cliff, this women is "relatively" cautious with her selfie attempt on Mount Merapi in Indonesia.



A German verb ending is added to the English term to loot, but young people use "looten" as slang for shopping. Last July in Hamburg, some people applied the term literally during the anti-G20 summit protests.



This one is obviously easy to understand for English speakers: it's the crew, the gang, the posse. "Squad" is used by German teens to refer to an extremely cool group of people — such as these pictured Sapeurs, members of a subculture born in the 1960s in Congo, who like to dress flamboyantly.



Egyptian protesters are on Twitter. Your grandmother is on Facebook. But you don't see why you should be following Instagram influencers. You decide to be the only person in the world to completely avoid social media. You're free to do so, but you must know that in the eyes of German teens, you're "sozialtot" — socially dead.



Already popular in English as a term for "cool," lit has also been adopted in Germany. According to the Urban Dictionary, it was already used by jazz musicians in the 1950s to describe being just drunk enough to play better, without being too wasted. If Billie Holiday (pictured) knew how to get lit at the beginning of her career, her alcoholism also led to her early death at the age of 44.



A combination of "nice" and "Frankenstein," with some distortion of the German superlative form "-sten," "nicenstein" is a term whose invention is attributed to Michael Krogmann, a host of the German livestream channel Rocket Beans TV, popular among the country's youth. Nicenstein means "perfect, fulfilling all wishes" — like this Halloween chihuahua.



The traditional pastime for people who like to sit for longer periods on the throne was to read. The smartphone offers many alternative options, and German teens now have a term for those who take that private time to send text messages: "tacken," which switches the T in "kacken," which means to take a dump.



"Schatz," or treasure, is one of the most popular terms of endearment in German. Those who don't have anyone to call that way are "schatzlos," or single. If you suddenly become treasure-less, remember that things could be worse: Berlin's Bode Museum became the country's laughingstock when thieves popped in one night this year and rolled away with the Big Maple Leaf, a million-dollar Canadian coin.



If you're "schatzlos," you might be using Tinder to find your next match. The German word for minor, "minderjährig," led to a wordplay with the popular dating app's name, as the minimum age to sign up and use Tinder is 18.



Are you the type of person who drifts off while the TV's on? Then you like to "napflix." German youths didn't come up with this one, either. A video platform called Napflix apes the Netflix logo and offers footage celebrating "monotony and repetition" specially selected for your siesta.

eg/cmk (dpa, kna)

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