German word of the day: Der Morgenmuffel

Do you wake up to your alarm with an immediate scowl on your face? Struggle to find any joy in the morning until at least 11am? Well then, you might just be a Morgenmuffel!

German word of the day: Der Morgenmuffel
Are you a Morgenmuffel? Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Patrick Pleul

This just so happens to be my favourite German word, and with good reason: English has no direct equivalent. It might also be down to the fact that I consider myself one such Morgenmuffel.

In English, we use the term ‘morning person’ to describe someone who thrives on being alert and active in the early morning. A Morgenmuffel, however, can be used to describe someone who is particularly grumpy during these hours (and should only be approached after at least one cup of coffee).

In terms of the word’s origins, it consists of the two German words Morgen and Muffel. Morgen translates to ‘morning’, while Muffel refers to a grouchy, disinterested person and originates from the verb muffeln (‘chewing with your mouth full’). This verb is linked to the Middle High German muffen, mupfen (roughly meaning ‘to turn up one’s mouth’).

The German dictionary Duden also traces muffeln back to the Dutch word moppen, which links to the Low German mopen, and finally the German word Mops, otherwise known as the dog breed ‘pug’. Perhaps the distinctive look of a pug conveys the unhappy features of a Muffel!

The fun thing about the word Muffel is that it can also be used in various other combinations. For example, a Lesemuffel (Lese meaning ‘reading’) relates to someone who is an unenthusiastic reader, while a Tanzmuffel (Tanz meaning ‘dance’) certainly does not appreciate a boogie on the dancefloor. The possibilities of being a Muffel are endless.

German word of the day: Der Maskenmuffel

If you consider yourself a Morgenmuffel, perhaps you find yourself more active and amenable during the later hours of the day: a ‘night owl’ or Nachteule in German (Nacht meaning ‘night’ and Eule meaning ‘owl’).

There’s even a couple of songs paying homage to the word. Check them out below and have a little dance to shake off the Morgenmuffel blues – as long as you’re not a Tanzmuffel, that is…


Du bist so ein Morgenmuffel!

You’re such a grouchy person in the morning!

Er ist ein schrecklicher Morgenmuffel.

He’s terribly grumpy in the mornings.

Member comments

  1. No great shame in being called a ‘Morgenmuffel’. There’s good research to show that such folk generally end up as high achievers in life, more so than ‘Fruhaufsteher’ anyway!

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German word of the day: Verwursten

This funny-sounding word can refer to much more than just a sausage

German word of the day: Verwursten

Why do I need to know verwursten?

The funny sounding word verb verwursten (which sounds like this) is a term referencing a very typical product (the Wurst) but with a myriad of uses beyond just sausages.

What does it mean?

Verwursten can literally mean to mix together ingredients to make a Wurst (sausage) – or anything resembling it. Manufacturers of fake meat products can also “verwursten” tofu, tempeh and the likes to make a more palatable substitute for vegetarians.

Yet it’s also slang for slapping together a bunch of ingredients – or elements of something – to make a final product. It is similar to the word verarbeiten, or to process. 

READ ALSO: Seven common myths about Austrian food you need to stop believing

A songwriter might take aspects of a story and verwursten it into their lyrics, as could a film writer with their movie.

Where does it come from?

Not surprisingly, the word stems from the world-famous Wurst, with which Austrians profess a love-hate relationship. The sausage is a staple cuisine in many parts of the country, whether Blutwurst or the Frankfurter. 

READ ALSO: Only in Austria: Graz gets its first sausage vending machine

But despite its ubiquity, it’s not considered to be the highest quality meat around. Like its American equivalent, the hotdog, the Wurst is a processed food made up of several ingredients. Give or take, it’s mostly composed of muscle meat, salt, various spices and perhaps some intestines or other (not so) savoury parts.

Sausages are one of the staple foods in Austria (Photo by Krzysztof Kowalik on Unsplash)

The sausage was recently caught up in a nationwide controversy when an investigation revealed that some Wurst products were being ‘verwurstet’ from ingredients that don’t usually belong in the recipe.

READ ALSO: Martinigansl and more: 11 delicious Austrian dishes you need to try

Here is how it’s useful

Ein veganer Aufschnitt wird von Soya und Zwiebeln verwurstet.

Vegan cold cuts are being made out of soy and onions.

Sie haben diese gespannte Geschichte in einem Film verwurstet. 

They made a film out of this suspenseful story.