English-speakers use the German word "über" as part of their everyday slang, but with a new definition and look.
Germans traveling in England or the United States may be happily surprised to hear English-speakers tossing around the German word "über" (or "uber") in everyday conversation. But even though "uber" has entered the English language, it has taken on a new, decidedly un-German, life of its own.
First of all, in English, there's no umlaut. In German, the word is usually used as a preposition (it can be translated as anything from "about" to "over" to "above").
Uber-cool or uber-hot, uber-nice or uber-mean, whatever the term, "uber" is basically another way of saying "very" when attached to an English adjective. It can also be constructed with a noun - like uber-dork or uber-model - as another way of saying "super" or "extreme." (Example: My brother is an uber-dork; he always stays home and plays computer games.)
According to Urban Dictionary, "uber" entered the English language when 1980's punk band Dead Kennedys recorded the song "California Uber Alles," but since then, the word has certainly moved beyond this niche audience.
A casual Google search will turn up thousands of hits for nightclubs, bars, companies, and blogs that include the word "uber" somewhere in their names. The word seems to take on a certain cachet: The truly trendy say "uber;" "super" and "great" are passe.
It's hard to say whether Germans will enjoy seeing another one of their words succeed in the English lexicon or recoil at how it has changed, but regardless, "uber" is definitely here to stay.
Author: Rebecca Farivar
Editor: Kate Bowen