Word of the Week: Hitzkopf

It may be hot outside, but the word Hitzkopf has little to do with outside temperature. Instead, it refers to a person whose blood may be boiling a little bit too often – someone who’s angry all the time. Does that ring any bells?

The word Hitze means “heat” and Kopf means “head”, so the term translates to “hothead” – someone who easily gets angry and tends to act out. This person’s body temperature may rise when they get angry and you may want to tell them to cool down. A Hitzkopf may be someone with a short temper – someone who lashes out at others or makes nasty comments when he or she is upset. Most likely, that’s not someone you want to be around, because small things could cause them to lash out at you for no reason.

The term exists both in English and German. While Elizabethan English had the words “hot-brain” (1600 AD) and “hothead”, Germans were using the word Hitzkopf. This indicates that for hundreds of years, heat has been associated with bad tempers throughout Europe.

By Nicole Glass, German Embassy

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