A group of language experts in Germany have declared "shitstorm" to be the nation's "Anglicism of the Year," calling the bit of English profanity the "best English gift to the German language."

The German linguistic jury defines shitstorm in the figurative sense: a "public outcry, primarily on the internet, in which arguments mix with threats and insults to reach a critical mass, forcing a reaction." Presumably, the literal, more scatalogical definition has yet to catch on in Germany.

"Shitstorm fills a gap in the German vocabulary that has become apparent through changes in the culture of public debate,” said the linguists. "Shitstorm" was widely used in Germany in reference to the Greek financial crisis and a major German plagiarism scandal. 

In second place was 'Stresstest,' or the "analysis of banks' financial strength during the European financial crisis." Also on the list was 'Occupy,' presumably from the American 'Occupy Wall Street' movement. (You might assume 'Occupy' was also in the running for the 1938 'Anglicism of the Year' due to Germany's own 'Occupy Europe' movement. In reality, the Anglicism of the Year contest is only in its second year, after being organized by linguist Anatol Stefanowitsch in 2010.)

What German words are you most grateful for as an English speaker? Schadenfreude? Sauerkraut? Post your favorite German loan words below. 

Commentarium (27 Comments)

Feb 13 12 - 4:06pm

Glad to help, Johann.

Feb 13 12 - 4:44pm

This is awesome. They give us "Zeitgeist" and we give them "shitstorm."

Feb 13 12 - 4:46pm

"Shit Storm & Stress Test"

Feb 13 12 - 6:58pm

Great name for an indie rap duo.

Feb 13 12 - 4:53pm

"Götterdämmerung" by a mile. From the Wagner opera, literally "Twilight of the Gods," with a sense of epic ruin, an ornate black metal apocalypse. "A collapse (as of a society or regime) marked by catastrophic violence and disorder."

Feb 13 12 - 5:25pm

In other words, A shitstorm.

Feb 13 12 - 6:01pm


Feb 13 12 - 6:06pm

Why do they need "shitstorm"? Isn't "Scheissensturm" just as effective?

Schadenfreude's my favorite (because there is *no* freude like schadenfreude), but that's been said, so I'll pick for second place "Weltschmerz," literally "world dirt," but implying being overcome by the hideous filthiness of everything. I also really like "arschzaft" ("assjuice"), but I think I made that one up myself. Things sound so much nastier in German, don't they?

Feb 13 12 - 6:35pm

going to wing this without looking it up, but I think Weltschmerz is literally 'world pain'.
'schmutz', or 'weltschmutz', might be world dirt. I would guess a good translation of the former might be, if used like 'er hat Weltschmerz', might be world weary, or jaded or something.

Feb 13 12 - 7:10pm

Huh, I learn something new every day. I always thought "schmerz" was a variant of "schumtz." Thanks for adding to my knowledge!

Feb 14 12 - 12:45pm

Maybe you can't say, "Scheisse" on German TV, but "shit" is OK.

Schmerz means "pain". Literally, "Weltschmerz" means "world pain", or pain that comes from the world. I always mentally substituted "world-weary", but wikipedia has an interesting treatise on the term:

Feb 16 12 - 4:47am

There isn't such a word like "arschsaft" ;-)

Feb 16 12 - 7:22am
Jadzia Dax

1. The correct translation for "shitstorm" is "Scheißesturm" ("Scheissesturm" for those who don't know our German special character 'ß' -- including the Swiss ;).

2. No, "Scheißesturm" is not as effective as "shitstorm" because it doesn't work in German. Some words are just untranslatable as you can see from many of your own Germanisms and German lean words.

3. Explicit consent in terms of "Schadenfreude". :) (The equivalent German phrase is: "Schadenfreude ist die schoenste Freunde".)
Btw: I knew about sundry Germanisms in the English language up to now, but that "Schadenfreude" belongs to them were news to me. (Even more that you folks seem to like it very much. :)

4. @profrobert: What mrmaven wrote about "Schmerz" (pain) and "Schmutz" (dirt) is right.

5. @meola: In German TV you can usually say what you want: Scheiße, Shit, F***, etc. -- without beeps. No one cares (except in serious shows, of course).
The reason why we say "Shitstorm" instead of "Scheißesturm", I mentioned above (2.).

6. @profrobert & msbrinkmann: I don't know the English word "assjuice", but a German equivalent (like the literally translation "Arschsaft" or something near it) does not exist! (It's a pity, intrinsically. ;)

PS: Please excuse my not perfect English. :-/

Mar 24 12 - 3:15pm

@msbrinkmann & Jadzia Dax
Actually you do have a German equivalen to assjuice.
It's called "Arschwasser" as in ass-water

Feb 13 12 - 7:03pm


Feb 13 12 - 7:54pm

english is originally derived from saxon, so even though the majority of words in the dictionary are french/latin/greek in origin, words like 'man' and 'woman' and 'bear' and such are all german derivative and make up a huge chunk of our everyday use.

That said, "schadenfreude" is a really great word.

Feb 13 12 - 8:46pm
aluiping [pictures.

Best German offering? I'm going to go with 'Kaput'. As I see it, the appeal of Schadenfreude is more about the concept, than the word. It doesn't tick both boxes. Obviously shitstorm works re the concept, but the very sound/look of the word works as well. I don't get that with schadenfreude. But Kaput? Short, sharp, definitive, just like the result/consequences it's describing. Ticks both boxes for me.

Republican presidential hopes? KAPUT.

Feb 16 12 - 5:40am
Jadzia Dax

The correct spelling is "kaputt". (Btw: We in Germany like this word, too. It's just concise. :)

Feb 13 12 - 11:35pm
Megan J.

Doppelgänger, for sure.

Feb 14 12 - 2:01am

Doppelgänger? I hardly know her!

Feb 14 12 - 11:43am

Schnurbart! My personal favorite.

Feb 16 12 - 7:51am
Jadzia Dax

Schnurrbart (with 2 'r'). :) (Has nothing to do with "Schnur" (twine, lace, string).) -- But why? Isn't "mustache" the same?
(Incidentally, the better German word for "Schnurrbart" is "Rotzbremse" (literally nearly "snot bracket" or "snot trap"). ;)

Feb 14 12 - 12:50pm


Feb 16 12 - 4:41am

This is bs!
"Shitstorm" is not a word used frequently enough to be considered a contribution to German language.

BTW, I like much better the corresponding German word "Empörungswelle" (lit. "wave of indignation/outrage") and propose it to be included in the English vocabulary.

Feb 16 12 - 8:18am
Jadzia Dax

The word "Empörungswelle" is definitely not wrong, but rather unusual (although compounds are normally very usual in German)! In fact the term "Welle der Empörung" is the expression of choice.

Feb 16 12 - 10:06am

You also use "Kindergarten" don't you?

Feb 17 12 - 2:51pm

Personally, I love Schadenfreude, and it is in wide use among the "intelligentsia" in America at the moment. But, we're a fickle lot over here, so it will probably fall out of favor soon. Putting the word "nazi" on the end of any word is sill very popular to indicate disdain for something or someone as overly rigid or following the rules to the letter, i.e. the "Soup-nazi" character on the popular TV show Seinfeld in the 90's. I also like Weltanschau and Realpolitik, but I haven't heard anyone use those in a long, long time in casual conversation. Relics from the Cold War, perhaps...