Someone recently asked me what zuwarten meant and I said this wasn’t a verb at all. Turns out it is. The Duden lists it and it is not even marked as rare or archaic. I have never encountered it before (in 34 years, university degree) and the example in the Duden does not make any sense to me. What I’m wondering is:

  • Is zuwarten a regional thing or is it specific to Austrian or Swiss German?
  • Does anyone know this as a day to day word?
  • 5
    nie gehört, da wollte einer vom Duden uns was unterjubeln ;) – äüö Apr 21 '15 at 10:32
  • Wortschatz Leipzig lists about 20 examples and all but one are from .at or .ch addresses - I personally would not use it in writing. – guidot Apr 21 '15 at 15:12
  • I once heard an acquaintance use the phrase, "Da müssen wir beherzt zuwarten." He's originally from Mainz, which is in Rhineland-Palatinate. – waldrumpus Apr 21 '15 at 16:41
  • Persönlich benutze ich dieses Verb nicht, habe es aber schon mal gehört. Eine schnelle Google-Suche hat mir überdurchschnittlich viele Seiten mit Medizin-Kontext angezeigt. Vielleicht benutzen das Ärzte häufiger? – Chris Apr 21 '15 at 21:02

I think I have heard this synonym of abwarten a lot in colloquial standard Austrian German [edited: or maybe I read it a lot in Austrian newspapers], but I have never heard it outside the Austro-Bavarian dialect area. (In particular not in South-West Germany. Not completely sure about Switzerland.) I suppose it used to be in more general use, but I think nowadays it should probably be marked as Austrian.

| improve this answer | |
  • 2
    zuwarten is definitely strictly regional, to the point that using it in broadcast media is a bad idea. I recall an incident where George bush's speech justifying the Iraq war ("While the world waited...") was dubbed by someone using this verb, and much puzzlement was caused among half the country. – Kilian Foth Apr 21 '15 at 11:40
  • I have even never heard it in my home town, which is in the very West of the Bavarian dialect area (between Munich and Garmisch, 30 km East of the Lech). So maybe it's something middle to Eastern Bavarian? – Jan Apr 21 '15 at 12:22
  • Disagree with the statement "not in SW Germany". But the meaning differs slightly from "abwarten". – Stephie Apr 21 '15 at 13:10

I live in Stuttgart (SW Germany), and used to live in Switzerland for several years. I heard it quite commonly in Switzerland, but cannot remember hearing or reading it in Germany.

| improve this answer | |
  • I live in S, too but I have definitively heard "zuwarten" here. Admittedly, it's quite rare and has fallen a bit out of use, but nevertheless existant. – Stephie Apr 23 '15 at 9:46

Ahh, synonyms that are not so synonymous at all...

There is a slight difference in meaning:

  • Abwarten
    Describes waiting until a given time frame has passed or an event has occured.
    It focuses on reaching a certain state:

    Wir müssen abwarten, wie sich das Projekt entwickelt.
    Wir müssen seinen Anruf abwarten.

  • Zuwarten
    Describes waiting for a certain time frame or simply waiting longer.
    It focuses on adding (more) time:

    Wir müssen bis Freitag zuwarten.
    Es ist besser, mit der Entscheidung noch zuzuwarten,

Admittedly, "zuwarten" is rarer, but nevertheless a valid verb:

Google Ngram Viewer "zuwarten, abwarten"

And here I'd love to embed the graph from google ngrams, but haven't figured out yet, how to do this.

| improve this answer | |
  • Is there any difference between "zuwarten" and "warten"? As for n-gram... just add a link :) – Emanuel Apr 21 '15 at 13:57
  • "Warten" can be completely without target, aim or goal: "Auf was wartest du?" - "Auf nichts." Both abwarten and zuwarten are never without purpose. – Stephie Apr 21 '15 at 14:02
  • "Warten" can be used without a concrete target. The difference between "abwarten" and "zuwarten" is that with "abwarten", you are waiting for a certain condition to be reached; with "zuwarten" you are waiting a bit longer in the hope that conditions will have improved until then, without necessarily reaching a definite target. – wolfgang Apr 22 '15 at 12:51

This is perfectly fine and correct standard German, as far as I'm concerned. (I am Austrian, granted, but I wouldn't have considered this an austriacism by any means.)

It is of a somewhat higher register, though, and perhaps frequently used in a professional context (think lawyers and doctors):

Der Arzt meinte, dass es besser sei, mit der Operation noch etwas zuzuwarten.

Das Gericht entschied, dass der Antragsteller nach seinem eigenen Vortrag durch zu langes Zuwarten ... die gesetzliche Dringlichkeitsvermutung selbst widerlegt habe.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    Im D-Deutschen aber häufiger abwarten o. abzuwarten. Ich meine es ist ein Austrianismus. – user unknown Apr 21 '15 at 13:04
  • 4
    I don't think it's German German. Perhaps spoken by a few people in Southern Germany; but it's not spoken in regions situated further north of Main. I guess what I'm saying is that it is an "Austriacism". – Em1 Apr 21 '15 at 13:50
  • The Duden does not list it a such, FWIW. Not that it matters much to us Austrians :) – Ingmar Apr 21 '15 at 18:14

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.