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Germans Add “Sh*tstorm” To The Dictionary

Submitted by on July 2, 2013 – 8:38 pmNo Comment

In the past, if a German wanted to describe an “unexpected, persistent wave of indignation over the behavior of public figures or institutions, transported via social networks and blogs,” they frequently reached outside of their native tongue to use a favorite Americanism: sh*tstorm. But now, Germans can claim the descriptive word as their own. This week, the definitive German dictionary Duden added sh*tstorm, in reflection of the word’s common usage by German speakers.

Sh*tstorm reportedly rose to prominence in Germany during a plagiarism scandal involving a Defense Minister (which ultimately forced his resignation) in 2011. Speakers apparently did not feel that similar German words captured the situation well enough. The term has also been used widely to describe reactions to the European Union’s ongoing financial crisis.

The German definition and use of the word does seem to emphasize an online eruption, while as far as I’ve always known, an American sh*tstorm can take place anywhere in any medium. Urban Dictionary’s top definition for the phrase describes it as “a situation that is utterly out of control beyond human comprehension.”

In 2012, a board of German language academics named sh*tstorm the “Anglicism of the Year.” When German chancellor Angela Merkel used the word in a public appearance last year, no one was fazed by the obscenity- the only focus was on Merkel’s acknowledgement of the effectiveness of public outrage.

What’s the next particularly descriptive phrase that German could borrow from English? Regarding the complex relationships at play in eurozone negotiations, might I suggest “clusterf*ck?”

And what about German obscenities for Americans? A quick Google search turned up “arschgeige,” which literally means “a** violin.” I’ll let you determine what the American use of this word will be.

What do you think of Germany’s favorite English word?


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