Word of the Day – “gelten”

Hello everyone,

and welcome to our German Word of the Day. This time we’ll have a look at the meaning of

gelten

 

Gelten is related to one the most important things of our time: climate change. Nah, kidding. That doesn’t even exist. Gelten is related to Geld.
Money. And that doesn’t exist either because… but let’s start at the beginning.

Both gelten and Geld are related to English yield and guilt. They all come from the super ancient Indo-European root  *gheldh- which was about “paying” for some sort of debt. At first, this was mostly used in context of making a sacrifice to your god but over time it broadened to more worldly  paying and debt. Guilt kept the sense of “epic” debt while German Geld went on to become THE word for money. And while yield pretty much focused on the idea of giving,  gelten slowly moved away from that and first became “be a proper payment for something” or simply “to be worth” and then took on the meaning it has today: to be valid.

  • Der Fahrschein gilt für 2 Stunden.
  • The ticket is valid for 2 hours.
  • Das Ticket gilt nur in Verbindung mit einem Identitätsnachweis (Personalausweis, Führerschein mit Bild, Reisepass)
  • The ticket is only valid in combination with a proof of identity. (personal ID, driver’s license, passport)

These were some pretty obvious examples but the word is used in a wide range of contexts.

  • “Und dann habe ich meinem Chef gesagt, dass er mal Deo benutzen sollte.”
    “Haha… da hat er bestimmt ganz schön blöd geguckt.”
    Das gilt übrigens auch für dich!”
  • “And then I told my boss that he should use a deodorant.”
    “Haha.. I bet he looked pretty dumb.”
    “Same goes for/”pertains to” you, by the way.”
    Lit.: “That is also valid for you, btw.”
  • Bei Marias Oma zuhause gelten andere Sitten und Regeln als in ihrer WG.
  • At Maria’s grandma’s, other rules and customs are in place/”effect” than in her shared flat.
  • Das Problem sind nicht die geltenden Gesetze, sondern deren Umsetzung.
  • The problem is not the current/applicable laws in place, but their enforcement.
  • Das Tor gilt nicht.
  • The goal isn’t counted.

The range of translations is quite broad but I hope you can see the core idea of being “valid”.
That might not be the case for the following use:

  • Die neue Chefin gilt als knallharte Verhandlerin.
  • The new boss has a reputation of being a trump tough negotiator.
  • Das Restaurant gilt als eines der besten der Stadt.
  • The restaurant is considered one of the best of in town.

Gelten als is about having a reputation. And that brings us back to money being not real. You see, validity, worth is often a question of consensus. Like, if enough people believe that the piece of printed paper is worth a dollar, then it’s worth a dollar. It “has a reputation” of being worth a dollar. And if enough people agree that fresh boogers are worth something… boooom…. we have ourselves a new currency.  We could call it “bit of snot coin”. Everybody could produce their own unconditional basic income and your winter sniffles would totally cover your next summer vacation. And the best thing is, there would be no financial bubbles because the boogers need to be fresh and humanity can only produce so many at a time. That’d be AWESOME. Well… and a bit gross.
Anyway, let’s get to the related words.  And the most important one is definitely the adjective gültig, which means valid. 

  • Gültig bis 1.4.2022.
  • Valid through April  1th 2022.
  • Die von Ihnen eingegebene E-Mail-Adresse ist ungültig.
  • The email address you entered is not valid.

There are also a few combinations with gültig like allgemeingültig (universally valid), mustergültig (perfect, like a role model) or endgültig, which means something like ultimate(ly) or finally.

  • Maria hat schon öfter gesagt, dass das mit Thomas “endgütig vorbei” ist.
  • Maria has said several time already that the thing with Thomas is “over once and for all”.
  • Das endgültige Endergebnis der Wahl wird morgen Vormittag erwartet.
  • The final official result of the elections is expected for tomorrow before noon.

Oh and then there’s the awesome gleichgültig. Originally, it was about the idea that two things are equally valid or have an equal worth but soon people started using to express indifference. Kind of like this:

  • Es ist mir gleichgültig.
  • It’s the same to me.

But for some reason gleichgültig took on a really negative tone. Saying that something is gleichgültig basically means that you don’t give a crap. So it’s more negative sounding than egal, which can also sound nice.

  • Es ist mir total gleichgültig, dass dich das stört.
  • I really don’t care, if that bothers you.
  • Manchmal ist Maria von Thomas’ Gleichgültigkeit genervt.
  • Sometimes, Maria is annoyed by Thomas’ indifference/I don’t care attitude.

Cool.
There are a few other related words but they’re not all that useful. The noun die Geltung for instance really only exists in fixed phrasings and compounds.

  • Das Bild kommt an der Stelle super zur Geltung.
  • The picture really shines in that spot
    Lit.: The picture comes to full worth at that spot. 
  • Marias Schwester ist extrem geltungssüchtig.
  • Maria’s sister is has an extreme craving for recognition/needs a lot of praise and attention.
    (not sure, if there is a better way to translate that)

And the prefix versions are few and of little use. The only real one is vergelten. There, the old idea of paying back some sort of debt is still alive. But not in a good way – vergelten means to retaliate, to retribute.

  • Nach dem Anschlag warnt der Politiker vor einer Spirale  der Vergeltung.
  • After the (terrorist) attack the politician warns against a spiral of retribution.

The noun is the most important one here though, you’ll rarely see the verb anywhere. And the verb entgelten, which once was about paying debt in a more financial sense, has fallen out of use completely and only the related words are still around.

  • Für die Teilnehmer der Studie gibt es ein kleines Entgelt.
  • There’s a small compensation/payment for the participants of the study.
  • Maria hilft zweimal im Monat unentgeltlich bei der Tafel.
  • Maria does voluntary work for the “Tafel” twice a month. (Lit. without monetary compensation)
    (the “Tafel” is an organisation that collects food that would be thrown away and hands it out to people in need)

Finally, there’s abgelten and it won the “Most useless word ever”-Award twice. If you’re a tax lawyer, then you might need it for such beauties as Abgeltungssteuer. I don’t even know what that is though and frankly… es ist mir gleichgültig :).

And I think that’s it. This was our little look at the meaning of gelten. If you have any questions or suggestions or if you want to try out some examples just leave me a comment.
I hope you liked it and see you next time.

** vocab **

gelten (galt, hat gegolten) – to be valid
gelten als – to have a reputation of

die Geltungssucht – the craving for recognition/attention
die Geltungsdauer – the duration for which something is valid

vergelten – retaliate
die Vergeltung – retribution

das Entgelt – the (small) monetary compensation
unentgeltlich – without pay, voluntarily 

gültig – valid
ungültig – invalid

endgültig – ultimate(ly), final(ly)
gleichgültig – indifferent, not important (negative tone)

 

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Katrina
Katrina
1 year ago

Hallo –
Wie wuerden Sie die Verwendung von “gelten” in diesem Satz uebersetzen?

Seine Aufmerksamkeit galt einer merkwuedigen neuen Erfindung.

Es scheint nicht zu einigen der Bedeutung im Artikel zu passen.

Vielen Dank

anonym
anonym
1 year ago

Hallo … 

Danke für das Teilen. Diese Frage ist etwas neben dem Thema, aber im Satz:

“Haha … da hat er bestimmt ganz schön blöd geguckt.”

Bedeutet das, dass er komisch aussah(Aussehen) oder dass er mich irgendwie “komisch” ansah? 

Wenn es das Aussehen wäre, hätten Sie sagen können:

“Haha… da hat er bestimmt ganz schön blöd ausgesehen.”

vielen Dank

Kazem
Kazem
1 year ago

That was a nice, awesome post Emanuel. I wanna thank you and those who sponsored me for reaching out to this blog for free.

anonym
anonym
1 year ago

Vielen Dank für den Artikel.

Ich habe mich gefragt, was Ihre Gedanken in Bezug auf angesehen als und gelten als sind? Sie scheinen die gleiche Schwingung zu haben. Ich habe den folgenden Satz gelesen und mich gefragt, ob Sie “angesehen als” durch “gelten als” ersetzen könnten.

Pasta mit Tomatensoße wird als italienisches Essen angesehen.

Gary
Gary
2 years ago

Hallo Emanuel

Das ist etwas nebensächlich, aber könnten Sie im folgenden Satz das Possessivpronomen “ihre“ Umsetzung verwenden? Wenn ja, gibt es einen Grund für das eine oder das andere?

Das Problem sind nicht die geltenden Gesetze, sondern deren Umsetzung.

Vielen Dank

Eliya
Eliya
2 years ago

RWE galt mit seinen Kohlekraftwerken bislang als größter Klimasünder Europas.

galt…als (has had a reputation, was considered)

Google translation: With it’s coal-fired power plants, RWE has been the largest climate polluter in Europe.

My question: Having a reputation or being considered something is not a statement of fact, but rather of opinion. Assuming the Google translation above is correct, what about the sentence in German leads us to believe this is a fact, and to translate it as one, and not an opinion?

Eliya
Eliya
2 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

hilfreiche Erklärung, danke

mzg147
mzg147
2 years ago

gelten is a very important word in mathematics; for example der Satz des Pythagoras:

Sind a, b und c die Seitenlängen eines rechtwinkligen Dreiecks, wobei a und b die Längen der Katheten und c die Länge der Hypotenuse ist, so gilt a^{2}+b^{2}=c^{2}.

“a^2+b^2=c^2 is valid”. It is a nice use of this word, especially because English doesn’t use it at all in this context.

Veen
Veen
7 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Wir nutzten hence (∴) in der Schule.

Vic
Vic
3 years ago

Great article.
Could you please also explain and give a few examples on gelten lassen and how it is used.
thank you.

Carson
Carson
4 years ago

I can’t seem to find proper translations for the two “gelten”s in the following examples, could you perhaps have a look?

“Die Kaiserfamilie hatte eine ganz besondere Vorliebe. Diese galt, wie Sie gleich sehen werden, exotischen Pflanzen.”

“Schon 2006 galt bei der 18. Fußball-Weltmeisterschaft in Deutschland das Motto „Die Welt zu Gast bei Freunden“ und versetzte die ganze Nation in ein wahres Fußball-Fieber.”

Thanks.

Olga
Olga
6 years ago

Wie kann ich Dir, Emanuel, für Deinen Blog vergelten! Danke sehr, dass Du uns ohne Entgelt lehrst.
Eine Frage an Dich, kann man so sagen: Das Bild kommt in diesem Rahmen zur Geltung.
Im Beispiel “Nach dem Anschlag warnt der Politiker warnt …” gibt es zwei mal ‘warnt.

Anonymous
Anonymous
6 years ago

Verwendet auch als Partikel, gelt? (Vielleicht nur in Süddeutschland.)

Vurn
Vurn
6 years ago

Also ist es ‘Entgeld’ oder ‘Entgelt’? Ich glaube, es gibt ein Fehler entweder in dem Beispielsatz oder in der Wortliste.

andresca
andresca
6 years ago

I meant to congratulate u for your 300
…i think people need this light approach to communication…i,wish you keep your path of enlightenement you have chosen..a lot of tour followers seem to grab or share some of your energy..prosst

andresca
andresca
6 years ago

Danegeld— blood money

Heiner
Heiner
6 years ago

“Vergelten” can also mean “to reward”. In former times they said “Vergelt’s Gott” instead of “danke” (at least in the southern parts of the German-speaking sector).

Judith Walters
Judith Walters
6 years ago

Geltung = “advantage” “external validation”
Yes, “The picture really shines in that spot.” is idiomatic for “Das Bild kommt an der Stelle super zur Geltung. But how about, “That spot shows off the picture to its best advantage.”
Also for the word “Geltung” in the sentence ” Marias Schwester ist extrem geltungssüchtig” — may I suggest: “Maria’s sister is extremely needy of external validation.” “External validation” is a term from psychology (not my field) but (in my understanding) it means that someone needs/wants something/someone outside of themselves to validate that they have worth; are good, smart, do well, look good, etc. These people always want to be praised and thought well of. I have found that German words with “Sucht” or “süchtig” in them, have technical/medical English translations, but in German their meanings are quite self-obvious. “German is Easy” ;-)

ronaldoserio
ronaldoserio
6 years ago

Thank you so much for the blog.
Real top-notch clarifications.
Und das gilt for your previous posts as well.

Jake
Jake
6 years ago

Was ist denn der Unterschied zwischen “Das gilt übrigens auch dich!” und “Das gilt übrigens auch _für_ dich!”?

Schneida Charles
Schneida Charles
6 years ago

Im happy, thanks for post. I never comment but I enjoy your emails bye- Florida USA

Readinggirl
Readinggirl
6 years ago

Geltungssüchtig … ” really needy”

Readinggirl
Readinggirl
6 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Hi, i’d say needy fits the bill as long as the speaker is a young-ish person, as it’s a slightly youth-speak idiom. So it might not stay in use permanently, but that’s how it’d be understood just now.
PS thanks for the blog, it helps us so so much.