Recently, a popular post at Seasoned Advice discussed the difference between (decapitated and skinned) rabbits and cats, following the OP's suspicion of a fraud in a shipment of rabbit meat.

@Stephie posted an answer that mentioned an old German saying that roughly translates to English as "head off, tail off - bunny".

What is the German original?

If available, I would also like to know more about the origin and usage of this saying.

  • 1
    I've never heard about the saying, but apparently there is a song named "Kopf ab, Schwanz ab, Has!" by the German punk band WIZO. Its lyrics made me giggle.^^
    – Chris
    Jun 1, 2015 at 16:13
  • 1
    Apparently, it is Kopf ab, Schwanz ab – Has, a song by WIZO. I only learned about it by searching for the retranslation; if it really is an old saying, it isn't known everywhere, at least. (Edit: It appears I am a bit slow. :) Leaving the comment as further evidence for it being not too well-known.)
    – chirlu
    Jun 1, 2015 at 16:16
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    For some reason I keep thinking about the Blackadder quote ‘I have a plan so cunning you could stick a tail on it and call it a weasel!’ Only mildly related, though.
    – Jan
    Jun 1, 2015 at 16:30
  • 3
    Could be regional, known in Swabia, though.
    – Stephie
    Jun 1, 2015 at 19:48

2 Answers 2


For lack of better sources, I claim anecdotal evidence: My mother heard

"Kopf weg Schwanz weg: Has!"

when she was a child in the 1950s. It appears to be way older than this (I suppose I could check with some elder relatives, if necessary.).

The origin is undoubtedly the fact that all meat was a rare food and valuable source of protein in rural/poorer groups and times of famine or at least malnutrition were common in Europe for centuries. The superficial similarities between a roast cat and a roast rabbit1 together with a wider definition of meat fit for human consumption (beaver anyone?) brought cats on the table, too.

And of course there is the term "Dachhase" for cat - according to Wikipedia dating back to the siege of Vienna 1683 - also indicating culinary uses of domesticated cats.

In newer sources this is often refered to as a joke:

  • There is a Swabian humorous story of the poor family who served the neighbour's cat at a wedding, complete with a boy spilling the beans afterwards with said quote. (Link here in Swabian dialect, see last paragraph.)
  • The Movie "Der Etappenhase" (1937) has this substiution as main motiv.

1 note: both rabbit and hare was and is often called "Hase", the terms "Feldhase" = hare and "Stallhase" = domesticated rabbit are still used although not zoologigally correct.


Kopf ab, Schwanz ab: Has' ist's!

  • 1
    Welcome to German.SE. Do you have any more to say than just the possible original translation? Like where it comes from. Maybe a source. And maybe formatted as normal text - or in case you add context than as quoted text? (need help on that?) Jul 8, 2020 at 13:52

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