“Krisenmodus” chosen as German Word of the Year 2023

“Krisenmodus” chosen as German Word of the Year 2023

2023 in Germany, it was not the best of times, it was not the worst of times, it was just non-stop Krisenmodus, at least according to the German Language Society jury who have just chosen the term as word of the year.

German Word of the Year 2023

The jury responsible for selecting the German Word of the Year each year has decided that “Krisenmodus” (crisis mode) best represents the feeling of how we spent 2023 in the federal republic - on the brink.

Chosen by the German Language Society (GfdS), the word of the year, selected annually by a jury of media experts and linguists, should linguistically reflect the political, economic and social life in Germany of the past 365 days. 

Announcing the chosen word from Hesse, GfdS representative Andrea Ewels said, “Exceptional circumstances have become the norm. This triggers fear, uncertainty and a feeling of powerlessness within people. These feelings dominate the every day and one never knows what is going to come next.” 

Why is Germany in Krisenmodus?

This all sounds very ominous. Maybe you haven’t even realised that Germany has been in Krisenmodus. Just in case you need to get up to speed, the world of German politics in 2023 was characterised by surging support for the far-right, populist AfD, still high inflation rates, the worst housing shortage that the country has seen in 20 years, a record-high worker shortage affecting schools, hospitals and administrative bodies and finally, the on-going budget crisis and increasing lack of sympathy for the traffic light coalition. That’s all without mentioning the climate crisis.

Chosen to reflect the 2023 zeitgeist, the word is not selected based on the regularity with which it was used among the 1.800 texts considered by the GfdS jurors, but because of its significance and popularity. 

Top 10 German words of the year 2023

Of course, 2023 in Germany wasn’t all Krisenmodus, but the extended top 10 list selected by the GfdS didn’t do much to add some glimmers of hope for the new year, with many of the additional words just reflecting more specific details of the overall Krisenmodus of a year.

Leseunfähig, hybride Kriegsführung, Teilzeitgesellschaft and Kussskandal are those among the chosen words where the relevance or meaning isn’t immediately obvious. Leseunfähigkeit refers to the worsening reading skills among Germany’s schoolchildren and hybride Kriegsführung to the nature of the Ukraine war, which has combined battlefield conflict with cyber attacks.

Teilzeitgesellschaft refers to the ever-growing conversation surrounding the four-day week in Germany in 2023, the year that the country announced its largest-ever four-day working week trial. And finally, Kussskandal, refers to an event which made the headlines internationally, when former Spanish football federation president Luis Rubiales grabbed footballer Jenni Hermoso’s head and unexpectedly forced a kiss on her.

  1. Krisenmodus (crisis mode)
  2. Antisemitismus (antisemitism)
  3. Leseunfähig (reading inabilities)
  4. KI-Boom (AI boom)
  5. Ampelzoff (traffic light quarrels or coalition quarrels)
  6. hybride Kriegsführung (hybrid warfare)
  7. Migrationsbremse (migration brake)
  8. Milliardenloch (billion-euro hole)
  9. Teilzeitgesellschaft (part time society)
  10. Kussskandal (kissing scandal)

To find out more details about why each word was chosen for the 2023 list check out the GfdS website.

Thumb image credit: FooTToo /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan

Editor for Germany at IamExpat Media. Olivia first came to Germany in 2013 to work as an Au Pair. Since studying English Literature and German in Scotland, Freiburg and Berlin...

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