The last two years have been pretty much devoted entirely to the coronavirus pandemic in Germany, so it’s no surprise that, once again, a crown-themed word has been named the Word of the Year of Germany in 2021. This time it’s “Wellenbrecher”.
Define 2021 in words
Last year was the “coronavirus pandemic”. In 2021, the German Language Society (GfdS) in Wiesbaden, Hesse, chose “WellenbrecherAs his word of the year.
As GfdS CEO Andrea-Eva Ewels explained, the word is used in coastal protection to describe a protective structure like a groin, jetty or wall – a breakwater or, literally, a ” wave breakers ”. Over the past year, it has often been used to describe measures to protect the population from the coronavirus pandemic.
Word “SolidAHRität“- which was used to describe relief operations in the Ahr Valley after catastrophic flooding in western Germany this summer – took second place, and third was”Pflexit“- a coat rack (like Brexit) of the words” care (Pflege) and ‘exit’, which has been used to describe the ongoing care crisis in Germany, with thousands of caregivers leaving work due to difficult conditions or poor wages.
German words of the year 2021
For its list, the GfdS not only looks at how often a word has been used or how popular it is, but rather how important it has become over the past year and to what extent it reflects the evolution of society.
This year, the company received more than 2,000 suggestions for its list. The top 10 selected were words which, in the opinion of the jury, have linguistically determined political, economic and social life in Germany over the past year. In a year once again dominated by the pandemic, it may come as no surprise that a grand total of seven of the first 10 words are linked to the coronavirus.
The 10 German words of the year in 2021 are:
- 1. Wellenbrecher (dike)
- 2. SolidAHRität (solidarity, in reference to catastrophic floods)
- 3. Pflexit (care-discharge)
- 4. Impfpflicht (vaccine mandate)
- 5. Ampelparteien (traffic light festivals)
- 6. Confinement–nicer (children confined)
- 7. Booster
- 8. freitesten (to test yourself for free, according to 3G rules)
- 9. Triell (double triangular, linked to the debates on candidates for chancellery)
- ten. fünf nach zwölf (noon five o’clock, that is to say on the clock of the end of the world)