A is for Abkürzung
Much like English, the majority of German Internet slang involves an Abkürzung (abbreviation) of a phrase or group of words, often formed from the first letters of each. Not exactly rocket science, but not a bad place to start!
B is for BD
BD stands for Bis dann (’til then), the German equivalent of CUL8R.
C is for Chatsprache
The general umbrella term for your online conversational activity in all shapes and forms—or, to put it simply, “chat lingo”!
D is for Denglisch (Denglish)
Like “leet speak,” German Chatsprache is littered with English as well as Deutsch, leading to the so-called Denglish combination. Sometimes it can’t hurt to trot out an English abbreviation (though it’s cheating, really!) like FTR (for the record) or RLY? (really?) and a few more you’ll find here.
E is for Emoticons
The universal language! 😀 and 😐 surely need no translation.
F is for FG
FG stands for freches Grinsen, fettes Grinsen or fieses Grinsen.
The last one is the sprachlich (linguistic) equivalent of :D.
G is for Geek
People in Germany use “geek” the same way we do. But did you know that this word has its roots in low German? Specifically, it comes from the word Geck, which was once used to denote a crazy person. The story goes that a “geek show,” traditionally staged by traveling circuses, would often involve such a person biting off the heads of live chickens.
H is for HDF
HDF stands for Halt die/deine Fresse! (shut up!). Literally, this translates to something more like “shut your trap/gob/cake hole,” or whichever delightful colloquial term you so choose.
It’s a tad blunt, this one, so keep it for your near and dear ones (who will presumably know you’re just being affectionate) or else someone who really deserves it!
I is for ILD
Ich liebe dich (I love you).
J is for Jokes (Witze)
When you see a great joke, you may feel free to respond with the timeless English slang, LOL or LMAO (refer to D is for Denglish, above).
K is for…
kein Ding. This literally translates to “no thing,” but means “don’t worry” or “no problem.”
Keine Ahnung means “no idea,” as in “I have no idea.”
L is for LG
Liebe Grüße translates literally to “lovely greetings” but really means “best regards.”
This is an appropriate sign off for any email correspondence. Variations include Beste Grüße (best greetings) and Viele Grüße (many greetings), often abbreviated as BG and VG respectively.
M is for mMn
This is not a sound that means “sounds delicious” at all, but instead it stands for meiner Meinung nach (in my opinion). Kind of the Deutsch equivalent of IMHO: “in my humble opinion.”
N is for Netzjargon
This word almost makes complete sense in English, and means “Internet jargon,” something you’re fast becoming an expert in—fourteen down, twelve to go!
O is for OK
No doubt this one is self-explanatory, Germans use “OK” along with the rest of the world, though alles klar (literally, all clear) would be a more specifically German translation.
P is for PLZ
Bitte. Alright, so it’s “please.” We did mention the Denglish, right?
Q is for QK
Translating literally as “nonsense head,” Quatschkopf is generally used in a lighthearted, joking manner, to mean something like “birdbrain” or “bull artist,” in a case where someone has been, well, talking nonsense. Quatschen on the other hand, means “chatter” about all manner of things—not necessarily nonsensical ones!
R is for RL
Richtiges Leben (real life).
The stuff you don’t do in front of a screen.
S is for SfH
Schluss für Heute literally means “close for today” but actually means “that’s enough for today.”
Schluss machen is used fairly often to mean “finish up” or “call it quits” but can have a more serious meaning, signalling a break up—in the sense of a relationship.
T is for Tschau
So the Italians might have made it universal, but it’s good to know how the Germans spell it, on-screen and off, right?
U is for…
Not the courier company, and not a reference to something somewhere up above in your chat thread. In fact, it’s the German spelling for “oops.”
Less common, but also sometimes heard in richtiges Leben is nanu! or the charming Hoppala! (oops-a-daisy!)
um Antwort wird gebeten (an answer is requested).
You might be more familiar with the French version répondez s’il vous plaît, more commonly known as RSVP. I include it here so that you can recognize this mysterious code when encountered, for instance, at the end of an email invitation.
Note that there’s some debate amongst German etiquette circles as to whether you should actually use it yourself. Apparently it’s a relatively old-fashioned abbreviation and your guests—even German ones!—may not understand the meaning, and so fail to provide the required response. If in doubt, stick with RSVP!
V is for vlt / vllt
W is for…
wieder da (back again). Short for Ich bin wieder da (I’m back again).
X is for XOXO
Küsse und Umarmungen (kisses and hugs).
Y is for Y?
Note: Y? is pronounced like the English “Y” when used in this context.
Z is for Zugaben (extras)
This short guide is just a starting point.
If you have the chance to communicate with German friends or colleagues by email, text or chat messenger, take note of the abbreviations they use too.