I have a question regarding the two words:

  1. fordern: to postulate, to posit, to demand, to require
  2. fördern: to fascilitate, to further, to foster

Is their similar spelling a coincidence?

  • 1
    Where did you get the meaning of fordern from? it's rather "to demand" or "to claim" than "to postulate".
    – tofro
    Commented May 13, 2017 at 21:53

3 Answers 3


The two words are not directly related like verb–causative verb pairs such as fallen/fällen, saugen/säugen or trinken/tränken.

The two words are related, though. They are both derived from the root that led to the word vor. Here is how the history of these words goes according to Kluge or the DWDS (I have simplified by only indicating the modern forms):


  1. vor + indoeur. adjectival comparative suffix -tero- (as in other, hinter)vorder
  2. verbalization of vorder → fordern


  1. vor + dental extension þfort (related: English forth)
  2. comparative of fort → fürder (archaic word, related: English further)
  3. verbalization of fürder → fördern
  • Ich denke, es ist passender, “according to Pfeifer” statt “according to DWDS” zu schreiben.
    – Carsten S
    Commented May 21, 2017 at 12:38

This very old issue from 1884 of the well-known etymological dictionary Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache by Friedrich Kluge states the following:

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    fordern Ztw. aus mhd. vordern, ahd. fordaròn 'fordern, verlangen, herausfordern, vorladen'; entsprechend ndl. vorderen: ein spezif. deutsche Bildung, den übrigen Dialekten usprgl. fremd; doch drang es aus dem Deutsch. ins Dän. und. Schwed. Es ist Ableitung zu v o r d e r.

    fördern Ztw. aus mhd. vürdern, vurdern, ahd. furdiren (auch fordaròn) 'vorwärts bringen, für etwas thätig sein, helfen'; wie f o r d e r n von v o r d e r.

The newest issue of the Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache (2012) does not state the vorder origin of fördern anymore, but instead fürder:

Aus wg. *furdiz-ija- Vsw. ‛fördern’, auch in ae. fyrþran; abgeleitet aus fürder, eigentlich also ‛vorwärts bringen’.

Source: fördern. In Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache (2012). Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter.


This is what Wiktionary says:

fördern: mittelhochdeutsch vürdern, mittelniederdeutsch vörderen, althochdeutsch furdiren, altenglisch fyrđran

fordern: aus althochdeutsch ford(a)rōn, eigentlich „verlangen“, woraus sich das mittelhochdeutsche vo(r)dern bildete. Das Wort ist seit dem 8. Jahrhundert belegt.

  • 2
    So you are implying there's no connection? - That's not correct. Both are related to modern "vor/vorder-": "fördern"="weiter nach vorne bringen". "fordern"="verlangen, dass jmd./etw. hervorkommt".
    – Chris
    Commented Aug 27, 2014 at 18:38
  • These questions are never clear-cut. The original ancestors of both words may have been different, but the subsequent history of meaning and form change is always influenced by how similar forms are synchronically. Therefore, it might be more accurate to say that the relation was originally absent or weak, and got somewhat stronger over time. Commented Aug 28, 2014 at 8:54
  • 1
    They are not directly related in a sense that one is only a nuance of the other but they do share the Indo European roots that is also in "vor". For details see here dwds.de/?view=1&qu=vorder (and "fördern"). Maybe you could phrase your answer a little more clear.
    – Emanuel
    Commented Aug 28, 2014 at 9:29
  • 3
    The first sentence presents "Wiktionary" as if it were some authority...
    – user6191
    Commented Sep 8, 2014 at 17:32
  • And now someone please formulate an answer ;)
    – Carsten S
    Commented Sep 26, 2014 at 22:11

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