German Word of the Week: Latte

This is much more than a German word of the week.  It’s a story of epic cultural misunderstanding with cross-national sexual overtones.

You wouldn’t think so from just looking at the word: Latte.  The ordinary German meaning is "pole."  However — and this is where you put the kids to bed, ’cause this post’s gonna get a little blue — it’s also a slang term for the erect male member.  From this comes the term MorgenlatteLatte of the Morning, to put it poetically.

So OK, latte means something like "boner."  Big deal, you might be saying.  Well, think about what you drink in late afternoon, especially if you’re in Europe.  Ah yes, an "italian" "caffè latte" would be just the thing.  And, as we all know, most people drop the first word and just order a Latte.

Trust me, this amusing cross-cultural ribaldry provokes any number of winks and sniggers in Germany, usually involving ordering a particularly "creamy" or "stiff" latte.  Here is a more clever recent example from the latest issue of Titanic.  It comes from a section in which ordinary readers write in with wry observations from everyday life.  Someone apparently spent a little time at a singles website and noticed this:

When a woman puts in her online "Flirt-profile" that she loves to get together with her girlfriends from time to time and "lesiurely slurp a Latte," she shouldn’t complain when her Inbox fills up with smut…’

9 thoughts on “German Word of the Week: Latte

  1. How come, getting along and taking care of children in Germany, I´ve never noticed the existence of this word? I could swear it is an 100% Italian word.
    But.. according to “WAHRIG Deutsches Wörterbuch”, the german “Latte” comes from English:
    [ahd.latta, engl. lath < ger.*lappo;verwandt mit laden, Geländer, Luder]

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  2. Es ist der Zahn der Bisamratte
    nicht härter als die Morgenlatte.

    I learned that from the “Lysistrata” comic by Ralph König.
    I’ll leave that to someone else to translate into english.

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  3. This reminds me of the following little story of a friend of mine sitting in a café in Berlin with a colleague. The waitress arrives.
    Colleague: “Ich bekäme gerne eine kleine Latte.”
    Waitress: “Ja, und was wollen sie trinken?”
    (“I would like to get a small [Latte …].” “Yes, and what would you like to drink?”)

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  4. it means *lath*, not pole. but that is also a stiff thing… or is that “pole” ranged to lead your fellow countrymen in the direction of the article?

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  5. It also has something to do with football in that when someone scores the announcers yell, “latte.” Perhaps it refers to the lattice work of the netting.

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