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I see this written a lot in advertising and amongst younger speakers - often as a standalone sentence referring to an act, product or activity. Can someone shed some light on how it's used and what exactly it means? To me it seems almost contradictory, but I guess I'm coming at it too literally.

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"Leider geil"

means as much as that this is inappropriate and pointless, but still nice/awesome ("geil").

The expression ("leider geil") became famous through a song by Deichkind "Leider geil"

- turn on subtitles in English to understand better

This music video shows various incidents that are "leider geil". Watch the video, then you know more!

As example:

"Autos machen die Umwelt kaputt, doch ein schönes neues Auto ist leider geil"

...that means something like a new car would be very cool ("geil"), but since it harms the environment (CO₂), the word "unfortunately" is used, hence "leider geil". So it's a contradicting statement.

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    It literally translates to "unfortunately awesome", does it not? "Cars destroy the environment, but a shiny new car is unfortunately awesome". – Vincent Nov 4 '20 at 19:25
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    @Vincent: correct. It can also be used somewhat tongue-in-cheek when there is something that you feel you shouldn't like because it should be "lame", but actually is rather good, like if you are a hardcore Jazz fan and hate pop music, but totally dig Robbie Williams' big band swing album. You should hate the album because Robbie Williams represents everything you hate about the music business, but actually the album is "leider geil". – Jörg W Mittag Nov 4 '20 at 20:51
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    So, it doesn't necessarily have to be objectively negative as in the car example. – Jörg W Mittag Nov 4 '20 at 20:52
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    @Vincent How do you translate a slang like "geil" literally? I am reasonably sure without being an ethymologist that it comes from "geilen" which is plant-related (badly explained: when a plant shoots up after a rainfall), then turned into "geil" which means sexually arousing, then got used for awesome. – kutschkem Nov 5 '20 at 7:31
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    @EiríkrÚtlendi Ah, I see. Well, German philosophers, notably Hegel and Marx, were central to the development of modern dialectic ... who knows. Schadenfreude als Synthese... – Peter - Reinstate Monica Nov 6 '20 at 0:42

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