If you’ve ever drank too much in one night, you’re surely familiar with the headaches and nausea that plague you the next morning. In English, we call this a “hangover”. In German, however, it is called a Kater.
The word Kater has two meanings in German, and they’re completely different from each other. Most of you might know the word by its first definition (a “male cat”). But in another context, Kater also means “hangover”. While one Kater is cute and furry, the other Kater makes you want to scream in agony. When you have an alcohol-induced Kater, you probably want to stay in bed and wait for the headaches and feelings of nausea to go away.
It is not clear how the word for a male cat became used to describe a hangover, but some say it evolved from the Greek word Katarrh (which was also used in German), which describes a type of unspecific respiratory illness with mucus build-up. Of course, the symptoms of a hangover have completely different symptoms, but this is the closest word that many people believe this type of Kater could have evolved from. In context: Ich habe einen Kater. “I have a hangover.” German Missions in the United States Welcome to Germany.info By Nicole Glass, Editor of The Week in Germany