For other uses, see Kraut (disambiguation).

Kraut is a German word recorded in English from 1918 onwards as a derogatory term for a German, particularly a German soldier during World War I and World War II.[1] Its earlier meaning in English was as a synonym for sauerkraut, a traditional Central and Eastern European food.

Etymological foundations

In German, the term means "herb", or designates the leaves and stem of a plant as opposed to the root. The term is more often used in compound nouns for herbs, and also for cabbage and cabbage products:

The plural Kräuter is commonly used (herbs, weeds), but when talking about spices, the singular is often replaced by Gewürz which can refer to any spice.


Although recorded as a colloquial term for Germans by the mid-nineteenth century, it was during World War I that Kraut came to be used in English as a derogatory term for a German. In World War II it was used mainly by American soldiers and less so by British soldiers, who preferred the terms Jerry or Fritz. The stereotype of the sauerkraut-eating German dates back long before this time, 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 Fortune.


The Bauer Krauts were an atom-level hockey team based in Kitchener, Ontario (known as "Berlin, Ontario" prior to the outbreak of the First World War) in the twentieth century.[2]


Krautrock is a popularly accepted term for a form of highly experimental German prog rock of the late 1960s and 1970s. Krautrock was typified by acts such as Amon Düül, Kraftwerk, Neu!, Tangerine Dream, Faust, Can and David Bowie on his "Berlin Trilogy" albums Low, "Heroes", and Lodger, 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.

The Swedish indie rock band Peter Bjorn and John composed the track titled "School of Kraut".

See also

Look up kraut in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.


  1. Oxford English Dictionary. Second edition, 1989. "1. = SAUERKRAUT, SOURCROUT. Also attrib. and Comb. 2. (Often with capital initial.) A German, esp. a German soldier. Also attrib. and Comb. Derogatory."
  2. "Murray Russell Fried".
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