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Guten Tag! Welcome to another edition of German untranslatable words, dedicated to teaching you quirky German words, their meanings, and how to use them!
Today the word is der Kulturbeutel.
What does Kulturbeutel literally translate to?
This German compound noun is made up of the words die Kultur (culture) + der Beutel (bag/pouch). Its literal translation, therefore, is ‘Culture bag’.
What does Kulturbeutel mean?
A Kulturbeutel or ‘culture bag’ is actually referring to our common old toiletry bag! You might also see it called:
Die Waschtasche – the wash bag
Die Kulturtasche – the culture bag
Die Badetasche – the bath bag
Der Waschbeutel – the wash bag (Beutel and Tasche are both acceptable translations of bag)
How would you use Kulturbeutel in a sentence?
Ich brauche jetzt endlich mal einen gescheiten Kulturbeutel!
I really need to get myself a proper ‘culture bag’!
What is the nearest English equivalent to Kulturbeutel?
This one isn’t too difficult. The nearest equivalent would be toiletry bag or wash bag.
Although it’s not quite as exciting a word as Alkoholleiche, Gemütlichkeit or Nervensäge, some of the other untranslatable words I’ve previously covered, Kulturbeutel is interesting due to its literal translation. What, after all, does Kultur or culture have to do with toiletries?
Broadly speaking, when you refer to someone as ‘cultured’ (gebildet or kultiviert in German) you are saying they are well-educated, and enjoy things like art, theatre, music, museums and travel. There is also a certain assumption that cultured people take pride in their appearance. Etymologically speaking, the word Kultur comes from the Latin cultura, which means to care for/groom (pflegen in German), so the idea of being cultured and caring for your appearance are more connected than you think!
Another, similar German word is die Körperkultur (literally ‘body culture’), which refers to personal hygiene and/or care. With this in mind, the word Kulturbeutel makes perfect sense!
So, what do you put in your Kulturbeutel? Here are some suggestions!
Toothbrush – die Zahnbürste
Toothpaste – die Zahnpasta
Deodorant – das Deodorant
Body spray – das Körperspray
Shampoo – das Shampoo
Shower gel – das Duschgel
Nail file – die Nagelfeile
Makeup – die Schminke
Tissues – die Taschentücher
Hairbrush – die Haarbürste
Hairband – das Haarband
Shaving cream – die Rasiercreme
Razor – der Rasierer
Tampon – der Tampon
Was hast du in deinem Kulturbeutel?