Supergeiler Artikel – Expressing enthusiasm and admiration in German
The other day my friend was walking her dog in Zurich when a man spray painting a wall along the Limmat yelled after her “geiler Arsch” (nice ass). She was shocked, and I’m surprised that the dog didn’t bite the clown, but as you can see yelling profane compliments at attractive women isn’t just limited to the English speaking world.
Now German speakers are not particularly known for showing Enthusiasm. Watch a football match in German and it’s like getting statistics on each player rather than what’s happening on the pitch until a team scores in which case they just yet louder and include phrases like “wohl verdient” (well earned). Similarly others will probably think of Germans speaking more like German film director Werner Herzog, who doesn’t really show any emotion in his speech. Listen to him read “Go the Fuck to Sleep” at the end of this post, here is Herzog in an interview though.
Despite what you may think there are numerous words for expressing enthusiasm in German. Like with the word Scheisse, you always need to watch the context and intonation you use when using these words and phrases.
Easy German enthusiasm words:
Anyone learning German quickly learns these words to express something being good.
super [ˈzuːpɐ] (super)
- Die Italiener hatten eine super Mannschaft. (The Italians had a super team.)
- Dass der Torwart den Elfmeter gehalten hat, ist einfach super. (That the goalkeeper caught the ball is simply super.)
- Meine Frau hat das super gemacht. (My wife did a super job.)
prima [ˈpʀiːmaː] (super, topnotch)
- Ich finde das prima! (I find that great.)
- Das ist ja prima! (That’s great!) Song here
toll [ˈtɔlɐ] (great, amazing, groovy, jazzy)
- Das Konzert war einfach toll. (The concert was simply great.)
- Ich finde sie toll. (I think she’s great.)
- Du siehst toll aus! (You look great!)
wunderbar [ˈvʊndɐbaːɐ̯] (wonderful)
- Das Wetter ist heute einfach wunderbar. (The weather today is simply wonderful.)
- Liebling, Du hast uns ein wunderbares Essen gekocht. (Dear, you’ve cooked us a wonderful meal.)
fantastisch [fanˈtastɪʃ] (fantastic)
- Du bist befördert worden? Das ist ja fantastisch! (You’ve been promoted? That’s fantastic!)
- Das neue Buch von Martin Suter ist fantastisch. (The new book by Martin Suter is fantastic.)
A little more advanced vocabulary:
Once you’ve mastered using the words above, you’ll want to build these into your vocabulary. When speaking you can place emphasis on these words to actually convey your enthusiasm.
herrlich [ˈhɛʁlɪç] (marvelous, wonderful)
- Der Abend mit Klara war herrlich. (The evening with Klara was marvelous.)
- Hier am Kamin ist es herrlich warm. (Here at the fireplace it’s wonderfully warm.)
klasse [ˈklasə] (terrific)
- Das Konzert gestern Abend war wirklich klasse. (The concert last evening was really terrific.)
- Markus hat da echt einen klasse Job in der Arbeitsagentur. (Markus really has a terrific job in the employment agency.)
- *Note that klasse doesn’t take an endings
spitze [ʃpɪtsə] (fantastic)
- Das Buch Der Koch von Martin Suter ist spitze. (The book The Cook by Martin Suter is fantastic.)
- *Note that spitze also doesn’t take any adjective endings if you use it before a noun.
stark [ʃtaʁk] (awesome)
- Eine starke Sache! (That’s awesome!)
- Echt stark! (Really awesome!)
- * but watch out it’s meaning can change drastically: Das ist ein starkes Stück. (That’s a bit thick.)
irre [ˈɪʀə] (mind-blowing)
- Das ist ja irre! (That’s far out!)
- Das Irre ist, wir haben uns am selben Tag schon gesehen. (The crazy thing is that we had already seen each other on the same day.)
- *but watch out it’s meaning can change drastically: Sie hat zu viele Drogen genommen und ist davon irre geworden. (She took drugs and went crazy from them.)
hervorragend [hɛɐ̯ˈfoːɐ̯ˌʀaːɡŋ̍t] (outstanding)
- Dein Abschlusszeugnis ist hervorragend. (Your final report card is outstanding.)
- Das Essen schmeckt hervorragend. (The meal is outstanding.)
ausgezeichnet [ˌaʊ̯sɡəˈʦaɪ̯çnət] (excellent)
- Das Kleid steht ihr ausgezeichnet. (That dress looks amazing on her.)
- Marcello ist ein erstklassiger Koch. (Marcello is a first-rate cook.)
**Just remember to watch stark (strong) and irre (crazy) with the list above.
When I first went to study at the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität in Freiburg im Breisgau, I got there and needed to buy a printer. I asked where I could do that and I was told to go to Saturn, not the planet, but the electronics store, which didn’t take credit card if you can believe it – cash or bankcard, but no credit. Anyway, lange Rede kurzer Sinn: their motto was Geiz ist geil (Cheap is great.) However, geil didn’t always mean cool, awesome, great; it used to mean horny, randy, lush etc, and still does if used in the right (wrong?) context.
Today, you’ll hear lots of people use geil to describe things. Der Film ist geil. (The film is great.) Das Essen war geil. (The meal was fantastic.) Er ist ein geiler Typ. (He’s hot stuff.)
**Watch out though: ein geiler Bock = horndog, and ein geiler alter Bock = dirty old man.
While Saturn has got rid of their Geiz ist geil slogan, the German supermarket EDEKA has adopted it to supergeil with the German musician Friedrich Liechtenstein, who comes across with a calmness that one would equate to Jeff Bridges as the Dude in The Big Lebowski. Here is the commercial that’s becoming an internet phenomenon.
In Switzerland, you’ll often hear huere geil (really great). Though many many think that huere comes from the German Hure (prostitute), but it actually comes from the word Ungeheuerlichkeit (enormity, awesomeness, giganticness etc.) You can listen to the use of huere geil in this Swiss comedy video:
As you can see from the examples above, most things in the German speaking world are geil and with a few days of Fasnacht left, so are many of the partiers.
Werner Herzog again:
As promised Werner Herzog reads “Go the Fuck to Sleep”.