Hot answers tagged standard-german
First off, note that both words are not used a lot in colloquial. These are rather formal words. However, in this case, as so often, it's important to understand how the prefixes an- and be- affect the meaning. Admittedly, it's hard to grasp for be-. But basically the prefixes are the opposites to aus- and ent-. The word pair an-/aus- is pretty simple. ...
"Ankleiden" is the action of actually dressing up - From naked to fully in clothes. Mainly used in the reflexive form, but you can also dress up someone else. Works only for actual clothing. "Bekleiden" has the general meaning of "to cover" - Can be used for putting someone else into clothing, i.e dressing up someone else Describing the action that ...
They are not exact synonyms. For example, in figural speech, you can "ein Amt bekleiden" (hold an office) but you cannot "ein Amt ankleiden". Ankleiden means the act of putting on a dress. (change from undressed to dressed) Bekleiden is rather used figuratively ("ein Amt bekleiden") or in the form "mit etwas bekleidet sein" (to wear something).
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