Do you read every night? Are you obsessed with your book collection? Do you feel like there’s something missing whenever you’re without the pages of your favorite author? Germans would likely call you a Leseratte!
In German, lesen means “to read” and Ratte means “rat” — yes, the kind you might find in the subway tunnel… or the pet store. So directly translated, Leseratte means “reading rat”.
But don’t feel insulted.
The word Ratte is often used to define someone who loves something very much. A Leseratte is a person who loves picking up a good book. Meanwhile, a Wasserratte is a person who loves being in the water (Wasser means “water”) and a Landratte is someone who is afraid to set foot on a boat and would rather spend his or her life on land.
But unlike a “book worm” (in German: Bücherwurm) who lives with his nose between the pages (and doesn’t get out very much!), a Leseratte simply loves to read. The closest English equivalent would be an “avid reader”.
The colloquial term originated in the late 19th century and has been used ever since. Rats were considered voracious creatures and people who “devoured” books without end were thus compared to rats. Although the presence of the word “rat” may give the word a slightly negative connotation, a Leseratte describes someone who possesses a love of books — which is in no way negative. So crack those books and keep on reading, you Leseratte!
By Nicole Glass, German Embassy