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!

  • 1
    Hahaha - I wondered when I saw this title whether it would be related to your question over on Go Outdoors :-)
    – Rory Alsop
    Mar 21, 2014 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, 2014 at 10:56
  • Insufficient background research. Could have checked WP.
    – Kris
    Mar 21, 2014 at 10:57
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    @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?
    – user53561
    Mar 21, 2014 at 11:06
  • I think Kris means Wikipedia. Mar 21, 2014 at 12:29

2 Answers 2



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.

  • 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, 2014 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, 2014 at 10:55
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    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. Mar 21, 2014 at 11:16
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    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, 2014 at 11:20
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    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, 2014 at 11:21

It actually is a Jewish German name. From what I know the muntzer is a name for someone who works with minted coins. Most were Jewish. I have also been told that this name means awakening in joy in its root. It seems slang has taken use during the Nazi rule to shorten the name to a slang used for black African slaves. Munt and furthered itself on slang towards Jewish and black men by natzis to ughly woman. During the war my family was johansens and were priests. Changed name to lower jewish name Munter most likely to hide identity as rabbis and Jewish leaders were being targeted first. Hope this helps. A. Munter

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