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The meaning of "treten" - And its prefix versions

A fun look at the German verb "treten" and its family. We'll learn the origins and loads of useful related nouns and prefix verbs.


treten, der Tritt, der Schritt, eintreten, austreten, auftreten, vertreten, betreten

Word of the Day - "der Schritt"


der Schritt, der Fortschritt, schrittweise, der Rückschritt, schreiten, einschreiten, überschreiten, die Ausschreitung

Word Family

Root: *(s)ker-

This is one of multiple Indo-European roots that were about the idea of:

turning, bending, moving in circles

The connections between the family members and this core idea are somewhat murky, though.
The original sense of Schrank was probably an enclosure. Think of a round fence. Then, it slowly shifted toward the idea of storage (Schrank) and also blocking the way (Schranke).

The word schräg (at an angle, not vertical or horizontal) is the closest to the original sense; with “closest” in quotes :).

In English, it’s even wilder.
The most obvious family members are words like curve, curb, circle, circus and crown and corona (named because it threw society for a loop).
Another, less obvious branch are words like  ring, range, ranch and rank, which all come from the core theme of forming a circle, standing in line.
The most surprising members are probably search and research, which are related to the Latin version cercare and which originate from the idea of walking around in circles – which kind of is what you do when you search something :)

Here’s an (incomplete) list of English family members:

  • curve, curb, curvature (“curve shaped”)
  • circle, circus, circadian, circular… (“being a cirlce”)
  • circumvent, circumstance, … (“verb+idea of surrounding”)
  • crown, corona (“bent twig you wear”)
  • ring (“being a circle”)
  • range, derange, arrange (originally “row of people”, then broadened to “area covered”)
  • rank (see “range”)
  • ridge (“bent shape”)
  • crisp, crepe (“curled up”)
  • search, research, recherche (“walking around in circles”)
  • shrink (“getting curly, crumbly”)
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9 months ago

re: the examples on this one…A+, 100% :D

(1) What exactly is das Einhorn up to here??
(2) How long were you the lead singer in a NKOTB cover band?

9 months ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Maybe it’s time to update the Membership Perks page? Come for the German grammar and vocabulary, but stay for the lessons on Unicorn social behavior and occasional late 80s/early 90s boy band covers.

1 year ago

die Artikel mit “der Schritt” ist nicht funktioniert hier