Word of the Week: Kummerspeck

Nov 23, 2012

Every Friday, Germany.info and The Week in Germany highlight a different "Word of the Week" in the German language that may serve to surprise, delight or just plain perplex native English speakers.


Craving chocolate Enlarge image Does that craving for chocolate hit you when you're feeling down and out? (© picture-alliance/chromorange)

The holiday season is a dangerous time for anyone who tends to pack on the pounds. Whenever something gets us down - regardless of the time of year - some of us moreover turn to food for comfort, which can lead to a pesky problem known as "Kummerspeck" (grief fat).

Like so many other German words, "Kummerspeck" is a compound noun composed in this instance of two separate nouns. "Kummer" means grief, woe or sadness (Traurigkeit), while "Speck" means bacon, lard or fat (Fett). To experience "Kummer" thus means to feel pretty sad about something. And dining on "Speck" can lead to a dangerous increase in amassing "Speck" on your own physique. This is why losing weight in German may be referred to as either "abnehmen" or "abspecken" - the prefix "ab" (down) is the opposite of "auf" (up) in this context, so "abspecken" literally means "to reduce fat." If you are too fat you suffer, moreover, from "Fettleibigkeit."

Some folks tend to gain weight after quitting smoking or a bad romantic breakup. This is when they might unwittingly eat too many cookies or turn to a box of chocolates for comfort, a bad idea if they start tipping the scales a tad too far in one direction as a result. This may be described as "Frustessen," which literally means "frustrated eating." People who are lovesick are described in German as suffering from "Liebeskummer." If they gain weight after eating too much chocolate to mitigate the effects of this "Liebeskummer," they could in turn end up amassing some unwanted "Kummerspeck."

Cured Bacon Enlarge image Cured Bacon (© picture-alliance/Arco Images)

A quick online Wiktionary search yields the following explanation for Kummerspeck: "Excess weight gain due to emotional overeating."

Anyone who gains a little weight after indulging in a few home-cooked holiday meals, by contrast, may jokingly be referred to as having acquired a "Rettungsring" (safety belt) around their mid-section, or as put on some extra "Hüftgold" (hip gold). Seasonal weight gain around the winter months is meanwhile referred to as "Winterspeck" (winter fat).

No matter what your weight gain may be referred to, there is only one solution to the problem - "abspecken."

© Germany.info

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