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'Cringe' is German 2021 youth word of the year

October 25, 2021

Some 1.2 million young people in Germany have selected "cringe" as their favorite "in" word. Two other English words made it into the top three.

Teens take a selfie
The youth word of the year has been chosen since 2008Image: Colourbox

"Cringe" has been selected as Germany's youth word of the year for 2021, receiving 42% of votes in an online poll, the publishing house Langenscheidt said on Monday.

The variant "cringy" to describe an embarrassing situation is also in common usage among Germany's youth.

"The word is in active use in the speech of 10- to 20-year-olds," Langenscheidt said, adding that this was confirmed by the fact that "cringe" made it to second place last year.

The word "sus" — short for "suspect" — received second place, while the informal English exclamation "sheesh," used to express disbelief, came in third.

Langenscheidt, which specializes in language books and materials, has been running the online poll since 2008.

'Lost' in translation

Last year's winner was "lost," which, although English in origin, took on a slightly different flavor in German youth usage to refer to someone who is naive, undecided or unsure of themselves.

Langenscheidt said the youth word of the year has been chosen only by young people since last year, although a committee from the publishing house ensures that no sexist or discriminating terms are selected.

tj/aw (AFP, KPD, epd)