I'm wondering whether any specific people group (e.g. a certain nationality or a certain organization of people) can be referred to or is known by an animal name.

For example I know of people being referred to as "Kartoffel", so a type of food. "Eine deutsche Kartoffel" could refer to a German potato or a German person.

Is there something similar with animal names, specifically bats (Fledermaus)? If yes, why?

As a fictional example, I am imagining something like: "Bankers are often called "Wölfe" in Germany because they tend to come in packs."

Edit: Thank you all for your answers and explanations, I gained some interesting knowledge albeit not about bats :)

  • There are some nation-states (or empires) associated to certain animals. But this does not really refer to the people living there. You would speak of der russische Bär, but this would mean the state (or the empire, in 19th cent.), not the individual person from Russia. – Christian Geiselmann Aug 27 '19 at 15:45
  • 3
    "Heuschrecken" comes to mind. "Fledermäuse"? No. – tofro Aug 27 '19 at 15:53
  • 3
    This question doesn't have anything to do with German language specifically. – πάντα ῥεῖ Aug 27 '19 at 16:50
  • πάνταῥεῖ one can understand that the OP asks for Fledermäuse, if one wishes. So, it is German language. Unfortunately, the answer is not quite interesting, though. So if off-topic, then it is by other reason – c.p. Aug 27 '19 at 19:28
  • Batman and Batwoman fit. Robin doesn't. – tofro Aug 28 '19 at 18:41


Fledermäuse is used as a term to describe people that are part of the goth/emo subculture. I'm still looking for a source, but I've heard that term used in that context.

  • 2
    Mir kräuseln sich die Nackenhaare. Goth oder Emo? ODER? – Janka Aug 27 '19 at 21:16
  • @Janka Im Zweifelsfall: "Punks" - Das passt immer. – tofro Aug 28 '19 at 18:39
  • @Janka Ich werfe dann zur Kräusel-Verstärkung auch noch den Namen in den Raum, den es zu meiner Schulzeit gab: Grufti :-) – Volker Landgraf Aug 29 '19 at 7:33
  • Bei uns waren Gruftis noch alte Leute mit altmodischen Ideen. – Janka Aug 29 '19 at 8:59
  • I have accepted your answer despite lacking evidence, since it got a few upvotes – G. Sansone Aug 30 '19 at 12:49

I'm not aware of any group being called after a kind of bats. In general there aren't that many groups for which an animal species is used as label.


NOTE: All of the following expressions are either pejorative or openly insulting!

I would have said that animals are not used for nations, for example, Frösche don't exist. The English frequently call the French froggies (and sometimes the French call themselves by this name, if there is some connection with the UK). In German they are often called Schneckenfresser (snail eaters) or Froschfresser (frog eaters).

There is only one exception - which I had never heard until quite recently, but which seems to be commonly known: Inselaffen (island monkeys/apes) for the English/British.

Bears and dragons can be used as synonyms for Russia and China, but not for the citizens of these countries.

"Organizations of people"

There are plenty of sports teams which provide an animal nickname. Examples:

  • Springböcke: South African national team in rugby
  • Wölfe: Members of VFL Wolfsburg (soccer)
  • Adler: Members of Eintracht Frankfurt (soccer), Adler Mannheim (ice hockey)

Some other groups:

  • Bullen (bulls; pejorative): police officers
  • Heuschrecken (locusts; pejorative): certain kind of financial investors (as in English)
  • Nachteulen (night owls): People who tend to (voluntarily) stay awake long in the evening.
  • Ameisen (ants): In the context of an Ameisenheer (an army of workers in large factories), the individual workers.
  • Wale (whales):

    • People who spend a lot of money in computer games (as in English; probably the English word is at least as widely used in German)
    • (pejorative) Label for obese people
  • Zecken (ticks; pejorative): An expression that is used by right-wing extremists for certain people who are politically left
  • Haie (ants; pejorative):
    • Kredithaie (loan sharks)
    • Finanzhaie (predatory actors in the financial sector)
    • Miethaie (predatory landlords)
    • (probably a few more)

Many animal names are popular nicknames (e.g.: Maus, Bärchen, Hase) or insults (e.g.: Esel, dumme Kuh, Schmutzfink).


  • Added Haie and another meaning for Wale.
  • Wal is also a derogatory term for obese people. – infinitezero Aug 27 '19 at 20:14
  • 1
    You forgot Haie (sharks) for people busy with grabbing other people's money in legal but unethical ways (--> Finanzhai, Miethai) – Christian Geiselmann Aug 28 '19 at 12:11
  • 1
    The opposite of the Eule (night owl) is a Lerche (lark). – cbeleites unhappy with SX Aug 28 '19 at 18:49
  • @cbeleites: I had also thought of adding Lerchen and Nachtigallen (when I first wrote the answer), but I considered it too unlikely to encounter these words in their plural form. Admittedly, Nachteulen is not completely different. – Frank from Frankfurt Aug 28 '19 at 18:58
  • Very nice answer! – G. Sansone Aug 30 '19 at 12:50

The fans or players of the Spanish football club Fc Valencia were referred to as bats. It is because it is the towns symbol, so relatable to the citizens as well. Not sure if it'll help you, but may be the closest you get.


Police officers are colloquially called "Bullen" (bulls), which usually corresponds to the English word "cops".

According to Wikipedia, the etymology of that expression does not have anything to do with animals, though, but with the Dutch word "bol", which means "head" or "clever person".

  • 2
    To cite the OP: "specifically bats (Fledermaus)" – πάντα ῥεῖ Aug 27 '19 at 17:20

No bats, sorry. :-(

As tofro points out, we often find Heuschrecken, locusts, referring to people who buy companies, sell everything out for money, and then move on. Probably what fits your banker example best.

We also find the not-quite-animal Blutsauger, bloodsuckers, used to refer to people who exploit others, especially to extract as much money as possible.

Then, on a different note, we have Nachteulen, night owls, people who like to have fun at night and consequentially sleep late into the day.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.