German word of the day: Der Muskelkater

Did you overdo it on the treadmill yesterday? Today’s word of the day is for you.

Der Muskelkater is written on a blackboard
Photo: Francesco Ungaro / Unsplash + Nicolas Raymond / flickr

The German word ‘Muskelkater’ refers to the soreness you feel the day after an intense workout.

This unpleasant sensation most often occurs when you start a new workout routine, resume exercising after a prolonged break or simply push yourself too hard. 

So many people may be feeling it if one of their new year’s resolutions was to work out, or try a new sport. 

The first half of this compound noun, ‘Muskel’, translates as ‘muscle’, but the meaning of the second half is slightly less clear.

In German, ‘Kater’ can refer to two things: a male cat or a hangover. 

Unsurprisingly, cats have nothing to do with stiff muscles. But whilst the word ‘hangover’ usually refers to the after-effects of alcohol, it is also a very fitting way to describe the feeling you get after one pushup too many. 

READ ALSO: Ten German words with double meanings

The origins of ‘Kater’ are thought to come from the Greek word katarrh (catarrh), which refers to the inflammation of mucus membranes, one of the typical symptoms of the common cold. 

In colloquial language use, these symptoms soon became conflated with those of a hangover, and eventually with those of post-workout muscle fatigue.

This word is a reminder that exercise, much like alcohol, should be enjoyed in moderation.


Gestern bin ich ins Fitnessstudio gegangen und heute habe ich Muskelkater in meinen Armen. 

Yesterday I went to the gym and today my arm muscles are really sore

Hast du Lust, mit mir joggen zu gehen? 

Ne, ich habe gestern trainiert und jetzt habe ich einen schrecklichen Muskelkater.

Do you want to go jogging with me?

No, I did a workout yesterday and now I ache all over.


Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


German word of the day: Rücksicht

Here's how to take this thoughtful word into consideration.

German word of the day: Rücksicht

Why do I need to know Rücksicht?

Because it’s a commonly used word and knowing what it means – and practising it – will make you a better person.

What does Rücksicht mean?

Rücksicht is a feminine noun which means “consideration” or “regard”. It’s made up of the shortened form of the word zurück meaning “back” and Sicht – which means view. So literally, it means, back view, or looking back.

This literal meaning tells you something about how the word is used in German – if you look back to see what’s happened to your friend, you are taking them into consideration.

If you want to really make sure you don’t forget what Rücksicht means – you can watch the following video of Germany’s 1983 Eurovision song contest entry. The catchy ballad – called “Rücksicht” – came in place 5 of the competition that year. 

How to use Rücksicht

When using Rücksicht, bear in mind that it is usually paired with specific verbs and prepositions.

The most commonly used set phrase is Rücksicht auf etwas/jemand nehmen, which is used to mean “to be considerate of” or “to take care of” someone or something. For example:

Radfahrer müssen auf Fußgänger Rücksicht nehmen.

Cyclists must be considerate of pedestrians.

Er nimmt Rücksicht auf die Bedürfnisse seiner schwangeren Frau.

He takes care of his pregnant wife’s needs.

Rücksicht is usually followed by the preposition auf, but it can be preceded by a number of prepositions to compose different phrases. 

Mit Rücksicht auf for example, means “in view of” and ohne Rücksicht auf means “without consideration for”, while aus Rücksicht auf means “out of consideration for.” 

Here are some examples:

Führungen dürfen aus Rücksicht auf die Teilnehmer nicht aufgenommen werden.
Out of consideration of the participants, tours may not be recorded.
Er will tun, was er möchte, ohne Rücksicht auf die Anderen.
He wants to do what he wants, without considering other people.