German words expats should know: Assi
Question: what word can you use to describe something that’s a bit crummy, low-quality, annoying, lazy, bad - or even a person who embodies some or all of these things? Answer: assi, you Assi! All joking aside, today’s German word is another one that’s useful for sounding down with the kids.
An abbreviation of the word “asozial”, assi is a pejorative, slang term used either as an adjective to describe a big range of negative personality traits or as a noun for someone who exemplifies these things.
Asozial translates literally to “asocial” or “antisocial”, but in German the word has a wider definition that generally means someone who is uneducated, uncouth, probably unemployed and of a lower social class.
In British English, the closest translation might be the pejorative term “chav”, or in American English you might say “trailer trash”, although the meaning conjured up isn’t exactly the same.
Asi or assi?
Since assi or asi are both a shortened version of asozial, it’s common to see both spellings: with a single or a double S.
It’s also common to hear it used in lots of different ways - so much so that its intention often reflects the personality and prejudices of the person using it. So, while some people might use it to describe someone who never completed higher education, doesn’t work and instead draws social security benefits to spend on alcohol and tobacco, others might use it to pass judgement on those getting ideas above their station: wearing fake designer clothes and driving flashy cars.
Older people might use it to describe youths smoking, drinking and showing off in the street, while younger people might describe someone else as an Assi if they step in and ask them to keep the noise down. That person who took your parking spot is an Assi, so is that bossy teacher in school, and so is that neighbour who always tells you that you’re not sorting your rubbish correctly.
You can also use the word as an adjective to describe things as well as people - for instance, if you thought all of the clothes in a particular shop were cheap-looking, you might say they were “assi”.
No one wants to be an Assi
So, there you have it, whether you think they’re a jerk, a layabout, just a bit annoying, or an out-and-out criminal, there’s one word to cover it all in German: call them an Assi!
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