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What does ÜBer Mean?

Über originates from German, meaning 'over' or 'above', often used to signify superiority or excess. In modern parlance, it's synonymous with the ride-sharing giant, Uber, revolutionizing urban transport. But there's more to this prefix's power and influence. How has it shaped our language and culture? Join us as we explore the impact of 'über' on today's society.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Über is a German word that means above or over. In the 2000s it has migrated into the English language and is often spelled uber, rather than featuring the umlaut above the "u". It is often used as a prefix in English to describe something above and beyond the unusual, and is quite commonly used among teens and young adults.

Most common uses of über in English are in television, film and in the gaming world. The word über shows up frequently in texting and Internet chatting, replacing words of like hyper, rad, and awesome as ways to describe the superior or awesome quality of something being described. It doesn’t always have positive connotations. For example, in the final season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, one of the goals was to defeat übervamps, extremely tough prehistoric vampires that populated the Hellmouth.

The word uber is becoming more popular in texting and on the internet.
The word uber is becoming more popular in texting and on the internet.

A terrific video gamer may be called an überkid, or über gamer. In some cases, gamers get to über levels in a video game, or may become an über character. Some cheat codes allow a character to become invincible, allowing, as for example in Star Wars Jedi Knight, the opportunity for a character to become an über Jedi.

Though we might be accustomed to thinking of über in regards to modern slang language, the term über in Germany has long been used in much the same way. Friedrich Nietzsche, for instance, predicted the coming of a race of übermensch, or superior men who would overcome the state of simple human being and would reject societal rules and be able to use their minds to overcome the weaker human. Many have considered the Nazis as the übermensch; yet reading Nietzsche reveals this was clearly not his intent. He was speaking in philosophical terms and not discussing superior armed strength and the destruction of the Jewish people.

Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche predicted the coming of a race of übermensch, or superior men.
Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche predicted the coming of a race of übermensch, or superior men.

You could call the term über merely the latest in a series of terms that have been borrowed or completely stolen from Germanic languages. Much of English derives from Germanic origin, and in fact über sounds not very different from our word super to which it is extremely similar. The word easily migrates into English, where modern usage shows it is increasing in popularity. Someday only those with training in German language may recognize the word as anything other than English.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent LanguageHumanities contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

Learn more...
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent LanguageHumanities contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

Learn more...

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Discussion Comments

Logicfest

I'm not completely sure that people recognize "uber" as being anything other than an English word now. It seems people started using that in the late 1990s and have promptly gone on to abuse it like crazy sense then.

It's become quite common, indeed. Uber common, even.

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    • The word uber is becoming more popular in texting and on the internet.
      By: seandnad
      The word uber is becoming more popular in texting and on the internet.
    • Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche predicted the coming of a race of übermensch, or superior men.
      By: Juulijs
      Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche predicted the coming of a race of übermensch, or superior men.
    • Uber has become quite popular among teens and young adults.
      By: Scott Griessel
      Uber has become quite popular among teens and young adults.
    • Uber is a popular app-based transportation network.
      By: stockyimages
      Uber is a popular app-based transportation network.