The German Word ‘der Kater’ Posted by Constanze 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! 🙂
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)!
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:
- 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’!).
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! 🙂
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