There are several different explanations about the origin of the name "Katzbalger": one is that it comes from the custom of carrying a sword without a scabbard, held only by a cat's skin (German word Katze means "cat", while Balg means the skin (fur) of an animal. Katzbalger means a piece made of a cat’s skin). However, this is rather unlikely. Another theory is that the word derives from balgen (brawling), and refers to intense, close-quarter combat like fights between feral cats. The most common translation is "cat-gutter", with an allusion to cat fight. A katzbalger would often be used by pikemen, archers, and crossbowmen as a last resort if the enemy were to draw too close for bows or pikes to be effective.