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From Middle High German künec, from Old High German kuning (rarer kunig), from Proto-Germanic *kuningaz.[1] The development Old High German -ning → later -nig is regular (see Pfennig). The modern vocalism -ö- is chiefly Central and Low German; compare Middle Low German köninc, from Old Saxon kuning. Cognate with Old Dutch kuning (whence Dutch koning), Old English cyning (whence English king), Old Norse konungr (whence e.g. Danish konge). The word was borrowed into non-Germanic languages in Proto-Germanic times: Finnish and Estonian kuningas, Russian князь (knjazʹ).


  • IPA(key): /ˈkøːnɪç/ (standard)
  • IPA(key): /ˈkøːnɪk/ (often in southern Germany, Austria, and Switzerland)
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König m (genitive Königs or Königes, plural Könige, feminine Königin)

  1. king (monarch, chess, card games)

Usage notesEdit

  • Together with proper nouns, the genitive can be König[e]s with uninflected proper noun (e.g. Königs Wilhelm) or less common uninflected König with inflected proper noun as if the noun König were part of a name (e.g. König Wilhelms).


Note: The long genitive form Königes lost popularity by the mid-19th century and today only accounts for 0.3% of attestations.

Related termsEdit

Chess pieces in German · Schachfiguren, Schachsteine (layout · text)
König Dame, Königin Turm Läufer Springer, Pferd, Ross, Rössel Bauer


Proper nounEdit

König m, f (genitive Königs)

  1. A common surname originating as a nickname.


  1. ^ "König" in Digitales Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache

Further readingEdit