Dictionary noun *sel-o- Gesellschaft

die Gesellschaft


the society
(In the sense of "society" as the one we're living in. You know... we live in a society and so on.)
the company
("Gesellschaft" is a business term denoting certain types of companies in Germany. It is part of several abbreviations like GmbH or OHG)
the company
(In the sense of "the company you give to another person". Usually use with a possessive pronoun or in the phrase "in Gesellschaft von". NOT for "company" if it refers to the person themselves. It's only the abstract concept of company.)


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Word Family

Root: *sel-o-

The core idea of this root was:

habitat, human settlement

It’s the origin of the Romance salon and the English variation saloon and also of the Slavic “selo” which means village.

In German, it ended up being the word for society: Gesellschaf. That  originally meant “people who are in a room together”.

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2 months ago

Nice : )

So my questions would be:

If we are talking about a firm will it be absolutely clear from the context that we are talking about a company and not a society? Or can this ever be confusing for nativ speaker? Should we always assume society rather than a company unless it’s clear from context?

If we are talking about small groups of people (gamers, a reading group, a group of regulars at a pub, the people who live in particular Kiez) can we use Gesellschaft to refer to them? Or when we add on a prefix (die Kneipe-Gesellschaft??)

I think what I am particularly interested in is the third definition as this matches something I read recently apparently could be interpreted in this way.

So we could talk about a group of people who are meeting each other as eine Gesellschaft.

If i had friends around last night for some biers could i say “I hatte gestern Abend bei mir ‘ne Gesellschaft” ?? Otherwise how would you form sentences using this sense of the word?


2 months ago
Reply to  vvvv-vx

The thing that confused me was this from Brecht:

Als jemand in einer Gesellschaft den Eigentumstrieb natürlich nannte, erzählte Herr K

and there’s not so much context. So I was like ok how would i go about translating this?

2 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Thanks thats clarified this a lot. I don’t know so much about him. We were reading this text from him for my Deutschkurs…

2 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

ok cool I feel much more confident about Gesellschaft now! : ) Danke dir!

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