From Middle Dutch erbarmen, from Old High German irbarmēn, with two prefixes ir- +‎ ab- +‎ armēn. The base verb derives from Proto-Germanic *armāną ‎(to pity), from *armaz ‎(poor) (modern arm). The word ontfermen derives from the same source, with a different prefix.


  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: er‧bar‧men


erbarmen ‎(past singular erbarmde, past participle erbarmd)

  1. to have mercy, take pity


Inflection of erbarmen (weak, prefixed)
infinitive erbarmen
past singular erbarmde
past participle erbarmd
infinitive erbarmen
gerund erbarmen n
verbal noun
present tense past tense
1st person singular erbarm erbarmde
2nd person sing. (jij) erbarmt erbarmde
2nd person sing. (u) erbarmt erbarmde
2nd person sing. (gij) erbarmt erbarmde
3rd person singular erbarmt erbarmde
plural erbarmen erbarmden
subjunctive sing.1 erbarme erbarmde
subjunctive plur.1 erbarmen erbarmden
imperative sing. erbarm
imperative plur.1 erbarmt
participles erbarmend erbarmd
1) Archaic.


erbarmen n ‎(uncountable)

  1. mercy, pity




erbarmen ‎(third-person singular simple present erbarmt, past tense erbarmte, past participle erbarmt, auxiliary haben)

  1. (reflexive) to have pity on, to have mercy for
    Herr, erbarme dich unser.
    Lord, have mercy on us.
    Er hat sich des armes Mannes erbarmt.
    He had mercy on the poor man.

Usage notesEdit

  • In formal standard German, the verb is still commonly used with a genitive object (as above). In the colloquial, and increasingly also in writing, the preposition über + accusative may be used instead: Er hat sich über den alten Mann erbarmt. This is not yet generally accepted.
  • The difficulty can be avoided by using the widely synonymous construction Erbarmen haben mit (→ Er hatte Erbarmen mit dem alten Mann.).


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