I know the meaning of the following sentence

Ich würde gerne einen Termin machen.

Trying to better understand the words like wollen, gern, möchten, würde etc., I realized that the meaning of würde seems to be very strange.

According to two dictionaries its meaning sounds like dignity, elevation, majesty, to become?.

At the end I could find a dictionary with the right definition: would / will.

But why the same word can be translated in so different way?

Can you help me to understand the etymology of so different meanings?

(Further translations by WordReference.com and bab.la.)

  • 2
    What I could find with a quick look in two dictionaries is that the origin of "Würde" is not completely clear, but it is probably derived from "Wert". That would mean that the homophony with "würde" (from "werden") is merely accidental. Anyway, as a German learner you should treat it as such.
    – Carsten S
    Apr 13, 2014 at 23:29
  • 3
    In any language, words exist that are spelled equally but may have nothing in common. Ex. "Ball" in German and English is either a round object for playing, or a formal party. Another example in German: Gerade/gerade. In your case, you're comparing the noun "Würde" (dignity) with a conjugation of "werden" (to become) which happen to be spelled equally (except for the capitalization).
    – Em1
    Apr 14, 2014 at 8:17
  • In English there is a similar word: I will make an appointment. Will has only slightly to do something with your will or the last will or willpower. würde just means would.
    – Sebastian
    Aug 7, 2022 at 19:28

3 Answers 3


They are actually two different words:

Würde (noun) does indeed have the meanings you found in the dictionaries (dignity, etc.) The duden traces this back to the word wirdī in Althochdeutsch.

What you encountered in your example is a form of the verb werden, the Konjunktiv 2. This one seems to originate from werdan (duden article on werden)

I agree with Carstens comment that these words are not directly related.


Let's look at a slightly simplified version of the sentence:

Ich würde einen Termin machen.

I would make an appointment.

This, as Hulk said, is Konjunktiv 2, which generally expresses irrealis, i.e. something hypothetical.

Now let's look at "gerne":

Ich mache etwas gerne.

I like to do something.

"Gerne" is an adverb that means "with pleasure". German usually prefers using this adverb to the construction we see in the English version of this example.

If we combine the two we end up with

Ich würde gerne einen Termin machen.

I would like to make an appointment.

This is -- both in English and German -- a polite way to say "Ich will einen Termin machen" -- "I want to make an appointment". It's what you'd say on the phone when, well, calling someone to make an appointment.

  • Could "ich möchte gerne einen Termin machen" also then be used equally or would a native speaker preferably use "würde"?
    – user5105
    Apr 14, 2014 at 18:57
  • That works nicely, too.
    – elena
    Apr 15, 2014 at 6:47

Würde is indeed the Konjunktiv 2 form of werden "become", but the sentence you quote illustrates its use as a marker of subjunctive mood. Here its meaning is no longer about "becoming", but instead expresses that something is not real, or not assumed to be real.

  • 1
    Aside from the fact that the question was asked more than six years ago, I don't see what your answer contributes that the other answers have not yet mentioned. Jul 25, 2020 at 8:38
  • @BjörnFriedrich: as far as I have learned the age of a question is no reason for anything regarding quality or answers. So I would "keep" only the raised eyebrow for the content. Jul 27, 2020 at 6:11

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