German Youth Channel Dissatisfaction With Angela Merkel Into Slang Word

"Merkeln," a slang word defined as the inability to make decisions or have opinions, is gaining popularity among German youth. The coinage is a nod to German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel might be getting a permanent place in the German lexicon, but for all the wrong reasons.

As part of its annual attempt to compile a list of the most up-to-date German slang words, Langenscheidt, a German dictionary manufacturer, is once again encouraging the country's youth to vote on this year's Jugendwort, or youth word of the year. Leading the pack for the 2015 word of the year, with 34 percent of the vote, is the verb merkeln, a nod to the country's Chancellor Angela Merkel. The dictionary's website for the voting competition defines it as to do nothing, or to be indecisive and have difficulty voicing your opinions.

Merkeln is far ahead of the second-place entry, rumoxidieren, summed up simply as "chill." Earthporn, meaning a beautiful landscape; smombie, a hybrid of the words zombie and smartphone and used for those who are too distracted by looking at their phone to see where they're going; and eye tinnitus, "the unpleasant feeling of being surrounded by stupid people," are some of the 30 short-listed words voters can choose from this year.

2015 is not the first year merkeln has been suggested by Germans as a top slang word. It was first submitted in 2009, with previous suggestions defining the word as meaning "totally stupid" or to have a "bored and sad" expression.

Merkel, Germany's chancellor since 2005, is generally viewed quite favorably by Germans, who have stood behind her stance on the Greek debt crisis. She has been urged to run for a fourth term as chancellor in 2017, Reuters reports. A recent opinion poll put support for Merkel's Christian Democratic Union and its sister party, the Christian Social Union in Bavaria, at 43 percent.

The verb merkeln is a take on the adjective merkelsh, according to The Guardian, to describe Merkel's careful and deliberate approach to political decisions.

The winning word and the four runners-up in the Jugendwort competition are added to Langenscheidt's annual e-book of youth words. Yolo and swag have been winning words over the past few years, illustrating how German youth slang has mirrored that of the U.S. Yolo was short-listed as an Oxford American Dictionary Word of the Year in 2012, the same year it was voted top German Jugendwort.

Despite being highly popular, a word was removed this year from the top 30 list for the first time in the competition's seven-year history. Alpha-Kevin, defined as meaning "the most stupid of all," was deemed discriminatory against those named Kevin in Germany.

"It was not our intention to discriminate against specific persons," Langenscheidt said on its website.

Voting will take place online until October 31, when the top 10 words will be selected. A winner and four runners-up will be announced in mid-November. Langenscheidt hopes the words will reflect "100% youth language," according to its website.