LearnGermanwith Us!

Start Learning

German Language Blog

The German Word ‘der Kater’ Posted by on Feb 8, 2017 in Language

Guten Tag, everybody! In case you weren’t aware yet, I think the German language is truly wonderful. I love it when I tell somebody about an unusual German word and their face lights up. So here’s a post that I hope will make your face light up, too! In this post we’ll learn the German words for a male cat, a hangover, and delayed onset muscle soreness. These are all based around the German word der Kater. If this sounds like an odd combination of words to discuss in the same post, read on and all will become clear! 🙂



WebRTC is hard

Muskelkater is something this little fella will definitely feel after doing this! Photo by Tsahi Levent-Levi on flickr.com under a CC license (CC BY 2.0)

Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS as it is commonly known in English) describes the pain and soreness you feel in your muscles a day or so after working out or doing some form of tough, physical labour. We all know that feeling, right? Exercise feels brilliant at the time, but the next day you can hardly move? Have you ever considered that that feeling is a bit like having a hangover in your muscles? The Germans have. Der Muskelkater  is the actual German word for DOMS, and it literally translates to ‘Muscle hangover’ (der Muskel = muscle, der Kater = hangover)!




A Kater with a Kater .. ??!! Photo by catsintrees on flickr.com under a CC license (CC BY 2.0)

When I looked this word up, a lot of photos of cats came up, too. That’s because the German word der Kater has two meanings:

  1. Hangover
  2. Male cat

Yes. You may only know the German word for cat as being die Katze, but if you want to get specific about things, die Katze refers to a female cat, while der Kater is a male cat. It does seem odd to have the same word (der Kater) for two completely different things, but I highly doubt you could get them mixed up when spoken in context (well… perhaps a sentence like ‘Mein Kater ist so aggressiv!’ could be ambiguous: Either ‘my male cat is so aggressive’ or ‘my hangover is so aggressive’!).



meow calling #meow #cats #kittens

A Katzenjammer: What everything sounds like the morning after a night of heavy drinking. Another word for der Kater! Photo by muanjai on flickr.com under a CC license (CC BY 2.0)

And maybe the two words aren’t so different, anyway. While a Muskelkater describes the feeling of having ‘hungover’ muscles from strenuous exercise, the word der Kater (hangover) has some company with the word der Katzenjammer. Literally translating to ‘Cat’s wail’ (Die Katze = cat, der Jammer = wail), this is another German word for a hangover! It can, however, refer to an actual cat’s wail (not a regular type of meow, but those really whiney ones), too.


I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and that it’s put a smile on your face. It’s fantastic how just one word (der Kater, in this case) can teach you so much, and how seemingly unrelated words can link back to each other! If you liked this post then feel free to leave a comment, share it, and have a look at some of the other fantastic free resources on this blog – including our newsletter below! 🙂

Bis später!
Constanze x

Want to hear more? Sign up for one of our newsletters!

For more language learning advice, free resources, and information about how we can help you reach your language goals, select the most relevant newsletter(s) for you and sign up below.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
Share this:
Pin it

About the Author: Constanze

Servus! I'm Constanze and I live in the UK. I'm half English and half German, and love writing about German language and culture. I also work as a group fitness instructor.


  1. Allan Mahnke:

    These blogs are always so interesting! Thank you!

  2. Nancy Ray:

    Thank you–I love German; it’s a wonderful language. Your blog is great and helps show how much fun German can be!

    • Constanze:

      @Nancy Ray Thank you, Nancy! It is a very fun language! Glad you enjoy the blog.