I've tried to look for it and I found out a strange result:

The first word should mean opportunity, but if I'm not wrong its etymology comes from "to lie".

Is this correct?

  • 3
    You should include the main points of a link, just in case the target site goes down.
    – Vogel612
    Apr 2, 2014 at 22:53

2 Answers 2


Yes. You can think of "Gelegenheit" as something that lies along your path and you can pick it up. The actual evolution of "gelegen" was from "lying close to you" to "lying conveniently close to you" to "convenient".

  • Quack. Nobody really thinks of it that in such rosy ways. Everyone is aware that it could potentially have such an interpretation, especially if way (viz. Weg) may be itself highly abstract, but we don't really try to overinterlret as native speakers the inherent meaning of modals and auxilaries, which liegen as a verb of position and movement basicly is. We don't see any specific meaning in gewesen and Wesen either (ehich are etymologically connected). More over, I think it's misleading, because we also have here: gelingen, Glück, leicht, * etc. p. p.
    – vectory
    Dec 26, 2020 at 20:25
  • 2. "lying close to you" alludes to nehegelegen, nah'liegend, I suppose. This is not unproblematic, because most of these morphemes were innovated n Germanic, and again in German. Insofar as nah specificly reconstructs "reach, attain" for *Hnek'-for the theoretical parent language Proto-Inddo-European, it should warrant a closer look as for how you arrive at "attainable" (nahgelegen) from this. This is difficult because velars shifted depending on environment (e.g. across morpheme boundaries) and because -lic, lich, -ly was also innovated, thus it maybe an alternative over -lieg-
    – vectory
    Dec 26, 2020 at 20:27

Even though Emanuels answer pretty much says it all, I looked it up on dwds.de:

mhd. gelegenheit 'Art und Weise, wie etw. liegt, Lage, Stand (der Dinge), angrenzendes Land', in frühnhd. Zeit dann (wie Lage) die 'Verhältnisse, in denen sich jmd. oder etw. befindet'

Which roughly translates as

Middle High German gelegenheit 'the way something lies, location, status (of something), bordering country', later in Early Modern High German 'circumstances, someone or something is in'

But even more interesing is the verb gelegen:

mhd. gelegen 'benachbart, zur Hand, passend, verwandt'
Middle High German gelegen 'neighbouring, at hand, conventient/suitable, related

So something that is gelegen is something that is convenient. So Gelegenheit could be a situation that comes is convenient/suitable.

  • I think the most significant part is "Aus ‘nahe gelegen, benachbart’ entwickelt sich die Bedeutung ‘bequem, passend’." which you, unfortunately, haven't quoted, although you highlighted the meaning passend.
    – Em1
    Apr 3, 2014 at 12:40

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