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Untranslatable German Words: Morgenmuffel Posted by on Jan 13, 2017 in Language

Hello and welcome to another post on untranslatable German words, where I bring you the quirkiest, funniest and most intelligent words that the German language has to offer – and ones that are difficult to find a direct translation for! Today’s word is der Morgenmuffel.

Shaven & Grumpy

The face of a Morgenmuffel. Photo by plannerjohn365 on flickr.com under a CC license (CC by 2.0)

What does der Morgenmuffel mean?

In German, a Morgenmuffel is someone who is extremely grumpy in the mornings. I’m sure you all know at least one of them – maybe you even are one yourself! They are the kinds of people who think 10 am is an early start, and need about 4 cups of coffee before they can function. The German language, of course, has a word for these people!

 

What is the literal translation of der Morgenmuffel?

It is a combination of the words der Morgen – morning and der Muffel – grump/grouch. So it literally means ‘morning grouch’.

There are actually several compound nouns in German that begin with the word ‘Morgen’ (morning), such as:

das Morgenlicht – Morning light
das Morgenrot – Morning red (referring to the redness of a sunrise)
die Morgenluft – Morning air
der Morgennebel – Morning fog

It seems you can do anything with the word Morgen! 🙂
So if a Morgenmuffel is someone who doesn’t do mornings, what is a morning person called in German? Could you call them der Morgenmensch – lit. ‘morning person’? Yes, you absolutely could! The opposite (a night person) would be der Nachtmensch – lit. ‘night person’. In German, the word for ‘Night owl’ (someone who prefers/is more productive at night) is also an easy translation: die Nachteule (die Eule – owl).

Eyes Of A Night Owl

die Eule – owl. die Nachteule – night owl. Photo by left-hand on flickr.com under a CC license (CC BY-ND 2.0)

 

How would you use der Morgenmuffel in a sentence?

Quite simply, you’d say someone ‘is’ a Morgenmuffel. “Dieser Mann ist so ein Morgenmuffel!” – „This man is such a morning grouch!“

 

What is the closest English equivalent to der Morgenmuffel?

The word ‘grouch’ on its own is probably the closest, but it doesn’t specifically describe someone who is grouchy in the mornings. Is there a better word? If there is, let us know in the comments!

Are you a Morgenmuffel? Are you a Nachteule? Or are you a Morgenmensch?

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About the Author:Constanze

Servus! I'm Constanze. I'm half English and half German. I write here because I'm passionate about my languages and my roots. I also work as a translator & group fitness instructor.


Comments:

  1. metherton:

    In what way is ‘Morgenmuffel’ untranslatable? The first sentence gives a translation: “someone who is extremely grumpy in the mornings”. There may not be a translation in a single word, but that’s not the same as untranslatable.

    • Constanze:

      @metherton Hallo, metherton! That is exactly what I mean by untranslatable – that there is not a single word it translates to. German has a single word for it, whereas English doesn’t. In English, you’d have to use a phrase, or a couple of words to describe it. That is what I mean by ‘untranslatable words’. Hope that clears things up, and I hope you enjoyed reading about this word! 🙂

  2. Derek:

    Thanks for this – from a former Morgenmuffel.

    • Constanze:

      @Derek Hahah! kein Problem, Derek!

  3. Rick:

    So, ich bin ein Morgenmuffel, eine Nachteule aber nicht ein Morgenmensch! Sehr gut 😀