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I've heard two Germans refer to someone else (whose name is not Klaus) as Körperklaus. I didn't dare to ask them what it means. But I had heard that expression used before by others, so Körperklaus wasn't invented by them. It seems to be a way to characterize somebody, but I don't know how. A translation into English also doesn't make much sense.

What is a Körperklaus?

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    Mir war das Wort auch nicht bekannt, aber schau mal hier: stupidedia.org/stupi/K%C3%B6rperklaus - Kurz würde ich sagen: Es scheint sich um ein Scherzwort aus einer Szenegruppe (Studenten? Party-Jugend?) zu handeln, für Leute, die stark unter Rauschmitteleinfluss stehen. - Auch die Süddeutsche Zeitung äußert sich dazu: sueddeutsche.de/kultur/… – Christian Geiselmann May 29 at 11:10
  • @ChristianGeiselmann, also ich kenne es aus meiner Schulzeit Ende der 1990er/ Anfang der 2000er Jahre. Es soll wohl auf Platz 4 der Jugendwörter 2011 gewesen sein, was ich aus dem zuvor genannten Grund ziemlich spät finde. – Björn Friedrich May 29 at 11:14
  • @BjörnFriedrich Und wofür wurde es Ende der 1990er in deiner Schulbesuchsregion verwendet? – Christian Geiselmann May 29 at 11:18
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    Im weitesten Sinne für alle, die sich merkwürdig bewegen, bei uns damals vor allem für Leute mit merkwürdigem Tanzstil (damals war Techno "in"), aber auch für Besoffene mit torkelndem/ taumelndem Gang. Eventuell wurde es auch für Personen verwendet, die schlacksig und unbeholfen laufen, vielleicht sogar eine körperliche Behinderung haben. – Björn Friedrich May 29 at 11:30
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Körperklaus is a rude saying for a human who is not in control of his movements. This can be applied to all day things like walking or even standing, dancing but also sports, somebody who is not able to handle a ball or things like this. This can have several reasons like drugs and alcohol or even born or developmental disabilities.

Because of the last reason it should not be used in general. Personally I have a bad feeling whenever I hear this word. It has a very derogative connotation.

The word is not wide spread. It is not part of common vocabulary (Wortschatz). It is hard to say where exactly it is understood and where not. I hear it extremely seldom here in Berlin. Maybe it is more used in youth speech.

Words like this can be misunderstood very easily and can seen different in different surroundings, it heavily depends who is your opponent. In general I recommend to use more descriptive words instead of using a single word which can lead to confusion in either language.

  • Perhaps you could add a sentence about this word being part of the dictionary of certain sub-groups of the German speaking world; not a word that is necessarily being understood by everybody. – Christian Geiselmann May 29 at 12:33
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    I agree on the general theme and that it is nothing nice to say but it is not necessarily that grave. In my experience it's usage reaches even to discribe normal people who just have a bad fealing for body movement (having trouble with either or both delicate or rought movement). "Körperklaus" is ironic at best and rude or insulting at worst. A less rude word with similar meaning would be "Bewegungs-Analphabet". – hajef May 29 at 12:40
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    @hajef So, Grobmotoriker would be another synonym? – Christian Geiselmann May 29 at 12:42
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    Grobmotoriker is much less offensive but is probably not as broad. – Thomas May 29 at 12:48
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    I know people who call(ed) themselves "Grobmotoriker" with little to no irony. I don't think that one-handed people feel offended when they are referred to as "disabled" or a STEM student who is deeply into their fandom a "nerd". As long as it is accurate and the subtext doesn't express that the speaker looks down on the person in question, feeling insulted here is just a lack of sovereignty. – hajef May 29 at 20:04
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The answer of Thomas is very good already, and covers many aspects. I just want to add one more aspect which I perceive in the word Körperklaus: I think, besides denoting a person who does move in an uncommon or unhandy way, it can also denote a person which is very beefy, in a way which is perceived as "unnatural", so for instances men practicing a lot of body building. The pejorative connotation is still there, but the denotation is different.

There is a song of the German dancehall band Seeed named Waterpumpee released in 2002 which has the following lines:

Geh bloß uns nicht auf'n Sack,

weil du feige bist zu tanzen,

zieh die teure Jacke aus, du Körperklaus,

zeig, was kannst'n!

Wir moven gut in jedem Look,

im freshen und verranzten,

du mit deinem Benni Miles schockst die Vorstadtpomeranzen

The song describes an aggressive type of person who is addressed as "Körperklaus", and who is described to meet some stereotypic attributes of masculinity, including lone-wolf-behavior, fetish for brand clothing and a culture focussed on body shape, and contrasts it with a social, "cool", i.e. relaxed type of persons (the lyrical "us") who know how to express their feelings by dancing and get relaxation and a social sense from that dancing.

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    I think is this case Körperklaus is also ment as someone whose movements are awkward. Especially his dancing moves. Being beefy has nothing to do with it. Of course men pracitcing body building sometimes move awkward, but I think for a Körperklaus you have to move clumsy as well. – mtwde May 29 at 13:45
  • @mtwde I agree, that the lyrics go well with the denotation of "awkwardly moving person". But I have also used and heard the term "Körperklaus" in the meaning of a beefy person. For me, the song is not the only instance of its usage in that way. – jonathan.scholbach May 29 at 13:54
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    So Körperklaus is used here as a word for body building fetishists? (Or in other words: members of a masculine body-shaping sub-culture.) – Christian Geiselmann May 30 at 10:21
  • @ChristianGeiselmann Yes, I think so. – jonathan.scholbach May 30 at 12:35
  • I think in this case it is a Zweckreim that fits loosely because the word is rather broad and unspecific. It is somewhere between the mention-use-distinction, if it's just mentioned to tick the slang-checkmark. Of course it fits in the context, not an ambitious dancer. It also shows that the term is not meant to be soft, as Seeed would stay away from overtly strong obceneties. By the way, do you associate "beefy" with Kloß (Klumpen, Brocken)? What about Kloß im Hals read as Verschluss, closure, and Lat. claus-tro- "Enge-"? Thus body cramp, lock. In contrast with locker, leicht – vectory Jun 1 at 9:23
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In general a Körperklaus is someone whose movements (situational or in general) are awkward, clumsy, ungainly. Other german words for this kind of behaviour are

Grobmotoriker (person with gross motor skills)

Tollpatsch (engl. hobbledehoy)


Is Körperklaus rude as Thomas said in his answer? Well, yes and no.

There is a german saying

Der Ton macht die Musik

meaning: It's not what you say, but how you say it.

Maybe it started as an insult, maybe just as a friendly mockery, but it's also used as a satirical self description. e.g.

"When it comes to dancing, I transfrom into a Körperklaus"

Wether one should use it or not ... well, it's like a lot of words, which are potential hurting a group of people and which are sometimes mindlessly used. It's the society and our peer groups, which will tell us how, when and wether we should use them. And today as this word is mainly used as an insult, we probably shouldn't.

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