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During conversations with native German speakers, I have heard the word "krass" used in different contexts. But I still don't know how to translate it.

Any ideas?

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My impression is that among the younger people (I would say under 30), krass can in fact replace almost any adjective. –  painfulenglish Dec 22 '14 at 13:00

4 Answers 4

up vote 18 down vote accepted

"krass" is actually not such a new word as it's modern slang usage suggests. It is a loanword from Latin "crassus".

In general usage "krass" is used for extremes in either a positive or mostly a negative connotation:

Diese Aussage steht in krassem Gegensatz zu seiner sonstigen Einstellung.
Dies war ein besonders krasser Fall von Betrug.

From the 18. Century krass was also used by students, apparently first in the idiom

"Ein krasser Fuchs" - a young student with little experience in life

The Grimms wrote in their dictionary:

KRASS, plump, grob, derb, dann arg, schrecklich, fürchterlich, nach lat. crassus, doch vermengt mit grasz, gräszlich; ein in manchen kreisen beliebtes superlativisches kraftwort, bes. studentisch (krasser fuchs, kerl), seit ende 18. jh.

Only in recent years "krass" is also used in German youth slang with several meanings that have already been pointed out.

An appropriate translation can not be done without a context because of the so many different meanings "krass" can have.

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Others do not agree with you on the etymology of "gross": etymonline.com/index.php?term=gross&allowed_in_frame=0 –  Carsten Schultz Dec 22 '14 at 12:01
There is of course also "crass": etymonline.com/index.php?term=crass&allowed_in_frame=0 –  Carsten Schultz Dec 22 '14 at 12:02
@CarstenSchultz: Danke, habe das wieder entfernt, wurde ja auch nicht gefragt ;) –  Takkat Dec 22 '14 at 12:44

"Krass" as a slang term can mean many different things from "cool" over "that's odd" to "what a pity". It depends on the situation. Colloquially it's an all purpose adjective, mainly used by young people. For emphasizing you can use it together with "voll".


"Gestern ist meine Mutter gestorben." (Yesterday my mother died.)
"Krass. Tut mir echt leid für dich." (What a pity. I'm so sorry for you.)

"Ich hab im Lotto gewonnen!" (I have won the lottery!)
"Voll krass! Glückwunsch." (Cool! Congrats.)

"Werner sah gestern komisch aus. Geht's ihm nicht gut? (Werner looked funny yesterday. Does he not feel well?) "Der ist in letzter Zeit krass drauf. Lass ihn am besten in Ruhe." (He behaves a little bit odd recently. Best to leave him alone.)

These are not the best examples, but I hope you get the idea.

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The extreme overuse of "krass" was once (around the year 2000) connected to the language of second-generation immigrants from Turkey. The comedians "Erkan und Stefan" (themselves not immigrants) portrayed this stereotype (and maybe even shapred it to a degree) in sketches like this one: youtube.com/watch?v=AADuFU7Q0wU –  0x6d64 Jan 6 '12 at 9:21

According to German wiktionary: (translations below each line)

[1] extrem, besonders intensiv
(extreme, very intense)
[2] (umgangssprachlich Ausruf der Überraschung)
(colloquial expression of surprise)

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Do you think sympathetic exclamatory use of "Far out!", "Crazy!" or "Intense!" would be reasonably equivalent?

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Sounds good to me, but the answers section is usually reserved for answers around here, not questions ;) –  Carsten Schultz Dec 22 '14 at 11:51
This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post - you can always comment on your own posts, and once you have sufficient reputation you will be able to comment on any post. –  boaten Dec 22 '14 at 12:19
You should edit your post to make it an answer rather than a question. –  Takkat Dec 22 '14 at 12:45

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