English

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Alternative forms

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Etymology

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Borrowed from German Gesellschaft, from Geselle +‎ -schaft. Compare to English gemeinschaft.

Pronunciation

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Noun

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Gesellschaft (plural Gesellschaften or Gesellschafts)

  1. (sociology) A hypothetical mode of society, made up of self-serving individuals linked by impersonal ties; as opposed to Gemeinschaft.
    • 1973, Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow:
      Seven years later, Hernández wrote a Return of Martín Fierro in which the Gaucho sells out: assimilates back into Christian society, gives up his freedom for the kind of constitutional Gesellschaft being pushed in those days by Buenos Aires.

German

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Etymology

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From Middle High German gesellescaft, from Old High German giselliscaft. Equivalent to Geselle +‎ -schaft.

Cognate with Dutch gezelschap.

Pronunciation

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  • IPA(key): /ɡəˈzɛlʃaft/
  • Hyphenation: Ge‧sell‧schaft
  • Audio:(file)

Noun

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Gesellschaft f (genitive Gesellschaft, plural Gesellschaften)

  1. company (presence of other people in general)
    Ich habe Gesellschaft.I have company. / I'm not alone.
  2. company (group of people)
    • Da kam eine Gesellschaft.
      There came a group of people.
  3. society, the public (abstract concept of an organised social group or a local population in general)
    • 1932, Erich Mühsam, Die Befreiung der Gesellschaft vom Staat, in: Erich Mühsam: Prosaschriften II, Verlag europäische ideen Berlin (1978), page 253:
      Wie stellt ihr euch eine Gesellschaft ohne Staat und Obrigkeit vor?
      How do you imagine a society without state and authorities?
    • 1995, “Digital ist Besser”, performed by Tocotronic:
      In einer Gesellschaft in der man bunte Uhren trägt / In einer Gesellschaft wie dieser bin ich nur im Weg
      In a society where one wears coloured watches, I only stand in the way.
  4. society (organised group of people with common interests)
    Die Goethe-Gesellschaft lädt zur Lesung.
    The Goethe Society invites you to a reading.
  5. (law) company, corporation (collection of people and assets with a legal identity, which may or may not be separate from that of its members)

Declension

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Hyponyms

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Derived terms

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Further reading

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