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.


German word of the day: Isso

Perhaps you've seen this word on social media and you're not sure what it means. Let us explain...

German word of the day: Isso

Why do I need to know isso?

Because it’s a nice colloquial expression to use if you’re feeling a little lazy since it combines a few words. It was also one of Germany’s favourite youth words back in 2016, although it’s definitely not particularly cool anymore and is used by all ages

What does it mean?

Isso is derived from the statement: ist so (short for es ist so) meaning ‘it’s like this’ or ‘it is so’ in English. When used as a response to someone’s statement, it usually means you completely agree. A good translation is: ‘right on!’, yes, that’s exactly right!’ or ‘it’s true!’.

You can also use the expression yourself to emphasise your thought. In this case you’d add it on at the end of your sentence. You often find isso used on Twitter, when someone is quoting a Tweet.

It can also be used in a more downbeat form accompanied by the shrugging of your shoulders. In this case you’re saying isso, because it can’t be helped, it’s the way it is. 

Use it like this: 

– Wir müssen gegen steigende Mietpreise in Berlin demonstrieren.

– Isso! 

– We have to protest against rising rents in Berlin. 

– That’s exactly right!

Frauen sind die besten Autofahrer, isso!

Women are the best drivers, it’s true.