What does "semi" actually mean?

Benno Maggi explains in his column "What does... actually mean?" terms from the field of marketing and communication. This time he explains the prefix "semi".

Was bedeutet eigentlichJust at the halfway point of the year, a word creeps into our vocabulary that couldn't be more appropriate: semi. The current state of the industry? Semi. The work of industry colleagues at juries? Semi. Juniors' proposals for the next pitch? Semi.

It is primarily the young people in the industry who have brought the word into circulation. When the old-timers talk about their long-gone exploits, Generation Z doesn't even roll its eyes anymore, but looks at the world in perplexity. What are they talking about? They find it semi-amusing or semi-interesting.

The prefix "semi", which as a determiner originally weakens or halves adjectives or nouns, has long since become independent. Probably because, without a base word, it leaves open what exactly it denotes. Neither outstanding nor bad. Neither innovative nor oldschool. Simply semi. That sounds more positive than "so-so" or "so-so" and more binding than "interesting," but above all much more motivating. Which brings us to the topic of Generation Z. While the "older generation" - meaning Boomers and Millennials - are used to commenting on current events from an intellectual half-distance, Gen Zers always go all in.

Basic motivation (self-)satisfaction

This new generation is now hitting the job market in full force. In the agencies and with the customers. It motivates itself from a seemingly infinite reservoir of self-confidence and presentation skills. That's why a lot of things are "semi": It doesn't matter if it's good or bad, the main thing is that it's right for you and positive.

Old management principles no longer apply. Old evaluation schemes even less so. When executives then desperately invite Generation Z experts to workshops, it is usually out of a mixture of great perplexity and forced curiosity. When asked "So, how was the workshop?", the answer is now "semi". This is because they have not only learned a new word, but have also experienced a feeling that could not be described any more lucidly than "semi.

On the one hand, there is the enthusiasm about this unbelievable energy and motivation, which is sprayed at you by Gen-Zler:innen, and on the other hand, there is the skepticism about their self-satisfaction. "Millennials and boomers with a "semi" usually shrug their shoulders and protect themselves, saying, "Well, that's not so innovative after all.


Benno Maggi is co-founder and CEO of Partner & Partner. He has been eavesdropping on the industry for over 30 years, discovering words and terms for us that can either be used for small talk, pomposity, excitement, playing Scrabble or just because.

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