verhören

(ver verb)

Meanings

1.
to interrogate
(This is what the police does, and so it sounds rather serious and official.)
2.
to hear something the wrong way
("sich+Acc verhören" - you hear something that wasn't the way you heard it.)

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The German Prefix "ver-" Explained

'ver' is the most common prefix in German and there seems to be no logic to it. In this article, we'll discover its one core meaning and what we can do with it.


Word Family tap to show/hide

Root: *keu

The core idea of this root was:

observing, watching, perceiving

It’s the origin of hören and to hear (which is acoustically perceiving, observing) and also of German schauen, which is about looking at.
The English brother of schauen, to show, shifted from mere seeing toward showing – first, showing what you’re seeing and then showing in the more general sense.

It’s also the origin of  German schön, which was originally “something you like to watch” and of the English caution which comes from Latin and was about watching in a sense of being on guard.

Some English relatives:

  • to show (showing what you see)
  • to hear (perceiving acoustically)
  • caution (observing danger)
  • sheen (similar to German schön)
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