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I'm a rock climber and I live in the UK (both of these will become relevant soon).

In the UK (typically southern England) it's common to call an unattractive person a Munter.

What a Munter

Now in rock climbing (presumably sailing before it) there is a knot called a Munter Hitch. Are these two things/word uses related? If so how and why?

It's not a particularly unattractive knot!

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Hahaha - I wondered when I saw this title whether it would be related to your question over on Go Outdoors :-) – Rory Alsop Mar 21 '14 at 10:51
The 'Munter' in 'Munter Hitch' is German, not English. It's thus unrelated to the slang Munter. Werner Munter lives in Vernamiège near Sion, Switzerland, and might take offense! en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Werner_Munter – Kris Mar 21 '14 at 10:56
Insufficient background research. Could have checked WP. – Kris Mar 21 '14 at 10:57
@Kris, there are plenty of German words in use in the English language (Schadenfreude). So the fact that the Hitch is German has no relevance as far as I can tell. What's WP? – Liam Mar 21 '14 at 11:06
I think Kris means Wikipedia. – Matt E. Эллен Mar 21 '14 at 12:29
up vote 2 down vote accepted


Well, unfortunately the OED says the origin is unknown and:

It is uncertain whether there is any connection with the slightly earlier use of munter in Australia and New Zealand to denote a loutish individual.

Their first two quotations show it's originally UK student slang.

1999 A. Losowsky Let. 21 Apr. (O.E.D. Archive) , Words and phrases especially prevalent at Warwick [University]... Munter, ugly female.

2000 Journal (Newcastle) 8 Dec. 26/5 Student glossary... Ugly boys and girls: Munter, minger, mutt, biffer.


I found some earlier examples.

Mozza, uk.music.rave, June 1997:

In our circles here in deepest darkets Oxfordshire we also use the word 'munter' to describe a person who is somewhat less than attractive - eg 'that short fat bloke at the bar is a complete munter'

^^[-_-]^^, uk.music.rave, Dec 1998:

My friends from way back in the years at school used to use 'munter' to mean an ugly person.

Ignacy Sawicki, uk.music.rave, Feb 1999:

In the local, Cambridge parlance 'munt' is the noun used to describe a seriously unattractive female, as in 'She's a munt!'.

Munter hitch

The Munter hitch named after Swiss mountain guide, Werner Munter, born 1941. My guess is they're unrelated.

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It was in use in the late eighties (or possibly very early nineties) in Scotland, as students used it in Edinburgh University. – Rory Alsop Mar 21 '14 at 10:53
+1 Also, "Werner Munter was born in 1941 in Lohnstorf, Switzerland and is a mountain guide, author and safety-expert for Alpine climbing."; "Munter, who lives in Vernamiège near Sion, Switzerland, introduced the 'Halbmastwurf' as a belay knot for climbing. English-speaking climbers know this knot as the Munter hitch." en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Werner_Munter – Kris Mar 21 '14 at 10:55
I've only known it used as a term for an ugly female, never a male. I first heard it about twenty years ago, I'd guess. – Terpsichore Mar 21 '14 at 11:16
Munter can also mean a drunk, from a Germanic word for merry. You can be munted if you're very drunk, or wasted. And a munter can be someone intoxicated on either alcohol or drugs, as seems to be used in uk.music.raveback to 1997. – Hugo Mar 21 '14 at 11:20
I'm not sure which came first, but perhaps this meaning of completely wasted was transferred to an unattractive person, both which may be found in nightclubs. – Hugo Mar 21 '14 at 11:21

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