“Shitstorm” Hits the German Dictionary

There is something awesome about a profane and pirated English word becoming an official part of the German lexicon. Duden, the German equivalent of the Oxford English Dictionary, has included into its newest edition the word “shitstorm”, after its use was popularized by German politicians and commentators during the recent Euro crisis.

After seeing the balance sheets of some of the member countries of the Eurozone, you might understand why the Germans would start muttering such a word under their breaths. But actually, the English-appropriated word isn’t just pronounced differently, it also has a slightly different meaning. Rather than referring to a situation that is untenably bad, the Germans use “shitstorm” to mean widespread and voracious outrage primarily found on online social media platforms. German Chancellor Angela Merkel even felt comfortable letting the word fly at a press conference to describe online backlash to her Euro crisis management.

This just adds to the awesomeness of the German language. On the one hand, it’s home to awesomely-long words, like “Donaudampfschifffahrtsgesellschaftskapitaenswitwe”, which literally means “widow of a Danube steamboat company captain”. On the other, the Germans have gotten looser about copping English words whenever convenient, regardless of whether the usage translates correctly. A great example is “a handy”, the popular phrase for a cell phone in Germany. The phrase has a different NSFW meaning here.

Of course, we would never get fixated on a German word the same way. Nope, not us.


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