What defines the 2000s for you

5 slang words from the 2000s that should make a comeback

The youngsters “lol” -t, “check in”, “check out”, “bog hard” and “go steeply”. Do you have to smile when you read these words? Then you probably also know that these terms all come from the youth language of the 2000s. Some have worn out and gone over time. Others became so popular that they spread throughout society and have been a cult ever since - albeit without the originally youthful expressiveness.

So it's time to look back: What was hot back then and which slang words from the 2000s deserve to be rediscovered?

Youth language and zeitgeist

The very fact that Germany has announced its own since 2008 shows the extreme differences in everyday life between youth and adult language. While the expression of adults has always adapted to social customs, the young people of every generation are a little more creative: The use of their language always reflects the respective zeitgeist. In the 1980s, did you wear leather jackets and white Reebok kicks? "Oberaffengeil!" Before the turn of the millennium, did you have tickets for Pearl Jam or the Foo Fighters? "Ultra awesome!" But every generation of young people gets to hear: "I just don't understand what the youngsters are talking about."

The following slang words from the 2000s all deserve returning to common usage:

1. Knork

Importance: great, great, good, excellent

“Knorke” has been circulating as a buzzword in the haze of cultivated sociability, such as in art or cabaret, since the beginning of the 20th century. It developed from the Berlin-speaking area and means something like "great" or "excellent".

Why was the word all the rage again among young people in the 2000s? Perhaps because of its throaty sound, but perhaps also out of youthful protest against the many Anglicisms in everyday German language. Because in the same period another term prevailed that meant exactly the same thing: suddenly everything was "cool". Hardly any other buzzword has made such a triumphant advance into today's language and is still understood and used so broadly today, regardless of age, milieu or etiquette. Wouldn't "knorke" be a nice change?

2. Chill out

importance: Germanized from English “to chill”, relax, hang out, calm down

“Chilling” has grown up with the 2000s generation and its usage has remained relatively stable to this day. Back then, people “chilled” in so-called “chill-out areas” of techno clubs: This meant areas where dancers could relax to relaxed music. In the meantime, people no longer just “chill” in the subcultural niche. The term generally refers to casual hanging out and relaxing. Even if the term originally comes from the decade of wild raves, it fits better today than ever: In the current era, many people long for more lightness and inner peace in life.

3rd swarm

Importance: Person you adore or are in love with

Nowadays you have a “crush”, in the past you had a “swarm”. What makes the word so exciting for a revival? All the word-related terms that we already use in everyday life: When you think of “raving” or “crushing” you think of butterflies in your stomach, rosy cheeks and amorous minds. Swarming people seem to wander around the world with a sympathetic, stupid grin and feel like they are floating two centimeters above the ground. Even if the crush is not reciprocated. Then it remains a daydream - but the word always sounds nice and nostalgic.

4. Shudder

Importance: so-called box word made up of "greet" and "cuddle"

In the 2000s, the so-called "digital natives" took their first steps on the Internet. The social media world of that time in German-speaking countries still consisted of portals like SchülerVZ or StudiVZ instead of Facebook, on Twitter you could only share messages with 160 characters and photos were stored in albums instead of curated in the Instagram feed.

This exciting new world made it necessary to create all sorts of new words: “Gruscheln” meant, for example, an innocuous contact with friends and previously unknown members. In contrast to the function, the origin of the word “gruscheln” is not clearly defined. Was that why the word made waves in schoolyards, in university canteens and online groups? Or was the reason, rather, that you could now for the first time give your crush a love letter digitally? Speaking of "swarm" ...

5. Imba

Importance: Short for English “imbalanced”, too strong, stronger than expected

The term “imba” comes from the computer game “World of Warcraft” and indicates an unequal balance of power between the individual characters - which makes a fair game impossible from the outset. In a figurative sense, the term also means “too strong” or “stronger than intended”. In today's world, the current zeitgeist moment is revealed in “imba”: The word expresses the hopelessness of a situation and pays the other side respect with sober appreciation. "2020 was just imba."

Was that just too far-fetched for you? Too deliberately 2020 zeitgeist? Then that proves pretty well that youth language is idiosyncratic and follows its own laws.

So it is always worthwhile to listen carefully to young people and colloquial words. Not just because you know what is being talked about. But also because reinterpretations, re-use and exaggeration of current youth language say a lot about the zeitgeist and the culture lived in a certain country or language area. Anyone who deals with the youth and colloquial language of the 2000s to this day will understand more about the thoughts and feelings of the respective generation and about the country and its people. And that's exactly what learning a new language is all about!