AskDefine | Define kraut

Dictionary Definition

Kraut n : offensive terms for a person of German descent [syn: Krauthead, Boche, Jerry, Hun]

User Contributed Dictionary



World War I: shortening of sauerkraut


Proper noun

  1. (derogatory slang) A German.




Old High German krūt



Kraut n (uncountable)
  1. cabbage (vegetable)
  2. herb (plant used to flavour food)

Extensive Definition

The German word Kraut when standing alone in English is used most frequently as a slur against German people. Kraut is also used as an abbreviation for the traditional German food, sauerkraut.

Etymological foundations

In German, the term is rarely used alone. It describes a sort of plant with a mild pejorative connotation, thus usually used to name "unsophisticated" plants in foods, weeds or (archaic) for tobacco. The term is more often used in compound nouns for herbs, and also for cabbage and cabbage products:
  • Rübenkraut = thick sugar beet syrup
  • Bohnenkraut = Savory
  • Unkraut = Weed
  • Weißkraut = white cabbage (also called Weißkohl)
  • Blaukraut or Rotkraut = red cabbage (also called Rotkohl)
  • Sauerkraut = pickled sour white cabbage

Use in slang

In former times, Kraut was used as a colloquial expression for tobacco, especially loose tobacco for pipes (Pfeifenkraut). Today it is sometimes used for marijuana.
Since World War II, Kraut has, in the English language, come to be used as a derogatory term for a German used mainly by U.S. soldiers fighting in Europe. This is probably based on Sauerkraut, which was very popular in German cuisine at that time. The stereotype of the sauerkraut-eating German dates back to long before this time though and can be seen, for example, in Jules Verne's depiction of the evil German industrialist Schultz, an avid sauerkraut eater, in "The Begum's Millions".
Ironically, the per capita consumption of kraut in the USA during World War II was significantly higher than in Germany. Now the average per capita consumption is twice as high as in the USA, but still lower than in France.

Use in music

Krautrock is a popularly accepted term for a form of highly experimental German post-Prog Rock of the late 1960s and 1970s. Krautrock was typified by acts such as Amon Düül, Kraftwerk, Neu!, Tangerine Dream, Faust, Can as well as many others.
Kraut was the name of a New York punk rock band in the 1980s. Their song "All Twisted" was the first independent video to air on MTV.
"Magic Kraut" is the name of a song in the album Fresh by Teddybears.
"Krauts with Attitude" is the title of the record released in Germany in 1991 which is credited for playing a prominent role in establishing the German hip hop scene.

Other uses

Under the title "Krauts" J. Corinth described his experiences as a German prisoner of war in North Carolina and as immigrant to California (ISBN 3-935111-14-2).
Krauts is also an Irish language novel by Máirtín Ó Muilleoir about young Northern Irish students trying to find employment in Germany in the early eighties.
Krautgrrl and Krautboy are also the monikers of two technical book authors who own a company called Kraut Companies.


External links

kraut in German: Kraut (Spitzname)
kraut in French: Boche
kraut in Dutch: mof
kraut in Russian: Бош

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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