anzweifeln

(an verb)

Meanings

1.
to doubt something, to question something
(This is not a strong full on type of doubt. More this skeptical raising questions kind of doubt and it's usually used for theories or appearances, not for single pieces of information. "bezweifeln" is stronger. MUST have a direct object. )

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The meaning of "der Zweifel"

A fun look at "Zweifel" and what the number two has to do with "doubt". Also, we'll learn about how to properly doubt something and how to despair in German :)

Vocab:

zweifel, zweifeln, zweifellos, bezweifeln, anzweifeln, verzweifeln


Word Family tap to show/hide

Root: *dwo-

The core idea of this root was:

two

And there are basically four big branches we can identify. The first one is duo, and here the sense of two is pretty obvious.

  • duet
  • dual
  • double
  • doubt (“on two sides)”
  • dubious (“two faced”)
  • duplicity (“two faced”)

The next branch is around the syllables: di-, dia-. In some words in this branch the idea of two is pretty clear. Others  are about a theme of through which is probably an extension of the idea of from one side to the other.

  • carbon dioxide (“carbon with two oxygen”)
  • diploma (originally “official paper folded twice”)
  • diabetes (“passing through”, referred to excessive peeing)
  • diarrhea (“flowing through”, referred to.. well… you know)
  • diagram (“marked/bordered by lines”)

The third branch is bi-.
Here, the theme of two is also very strong, but sometimes it’s fairly obscured.

  • binary
  • binocular (“two eyes”)
  • biscuit (“cooked twice”)
  • combine (“make two, put together”)
  • balance (originally “scale with two pans”)

Last but not least, we have the Germanic branch of two, twi-  and zw(e)i.
Besides the actual numbers, this branch has a quite a few words that are about coming from two sides.

  • two, zwei, twelve, zwölf, twenty, zwanzig
  • twilight (“double light”)
  • between (“by/within two”)
  • twine, twist (probably originally about “twisting two threads together for a rope”)
  • twig, Zweig (branch splitting up “two ways”)
  • Zweifel (“on two sides”)
  • zwicken (to pinch – “pinch between two”)
  • zwingen, Zwang (to force – “pinch between two”)

The connection of “Zweck” was an assumption in etymological sources for a while, but it’s not supported by newer research. Still, I decided to include it here.

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