German word of the day: Der Kabelsalat

German word of the day: Der Kabelsalat
Photo: DPA
'Kabelsalat' is proof that German really does have a word for nearly everything.

Literally meaning cable salad, the English equivalent would be cable spaghetti or cable clutter, describing the result of several cables close to each other tangling up.

Kabelsalat is the only salad on earth which prepares itself. It is not made on purpose, it just occurs.

Since Germans like to be organized, Kabelsalat behind a desk is sometimes viewed as a sign of bad office keeping.

More forgivingly, it is perceived as a stroke of fate, something that can happen to anyone. Which it does: All lengths of cables, except for very short ones, are similarly likely to develop Kabelsalat.

Of course, the time it takes to untangle them increases with length and number of cables. Usually, Kabelsalat starts at the end of the cables and then gradually moves to the middle. Many devices have been engineered to prevent Kabelsalat: for example Kabelbinder (cable ties or zip ties) and Kabelbäume (cable looms or harnesses).

A related German word, Bandsalat, has pretty much died out with its cause: it described the tangling of audio or video tapes.

So perhaps, with the increase of wireless devices, Kabelsalat will also become a historical term in the future.

We take mercy on whoever is tasked with untangling this Kabelsalat. Photo: DPA


Hinter meinem Schreibtisch ist totaler Kabelsalat.

There is a total mess of cables behind my desk. 

Du musst die Kabel fixieren, sonst gibt es Kabelsalat!

You have to fix the cables, otherwise there will be a mess!

Ich muss mal wieder den Kabelsalat in der Schublade aufräumen.

I have to clean up the mess of cables in the drawers again. 

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