The Alternative German Dictionary: backen

Android app on Google Play

Entry definition

backen etymology From Middle High German backen, from Old High German backan, an originally weak verb and geminated variant of an older strong verb: Middle High German bachen, from Old High German bahhan, from Proto-Germanic *bakaną, from Proto-Indo-European *bʰōg-. The two verbs early on were blended to some degree, each developing both weak and strong forms. Bachen was originally the predominant form throughout Upper German. Backen prevailed in the modern standard language because it was common in Central German and also in line with gml backen (where *baken is not attested). Cognate with Low German backen, Dutch bakken, English bake, Danish bage, Swedish baka, and also Ancient Greek φώγω 〈phṓgō〉. pronunciation
  • /ˈbakən/, [ˈbakən], [ˈbakŋ̩]
verb: {{head}}
  1. (transitive or intransitive) to bake; to roast Der Bäcker backt jeden Morgen 30 Laib Brot. — “The baker bakes 30 loaves of bread every morning.” Ist der Kuchen schon gebacken? — “Is the cake baked yet?”
  2. (transitive or intransitive, colloquial) to fry
  3. (transitive or intransitive, chiefly, pottery) to fire Die Tonfigur muss mindestens zwei Stunden im Ofen backen. — “The clay piece must be fired in the oven for at least two hours.”
  4. (intransitive) to stick together; to cake. Der Schnee backte gestern besser.
  5. (transitive) to stick (something to something else).
The verb backen has weak forms (present: du backst, er backt; past: backte; past participle: gebackt) alongside strong forms (du bäckst, er bäckt; buk; gebacken). The contemporary usage is as follows:
  • For the past participle, strong gebacken is the normal form.
  • Otherwise both weak and strong forms are possible, with probably a certain prominence of the former. For the past tense in particular, the choice is left to personal preference, since neither backte nor buk are commonly heard in vernacular German, which almost exclusively uses the perfect tense for this verb (and many others).
  • Only weak forms are generally used in the – rather unfrequent – sense of “to stick”, except for the past participle, which may be gebacken or gebackt.
related terms:
  • bähen

All Languages

Languages and entry counts