An acquaintance takes the German A2-course and didn't know the word beliebig. I explained him that beliebiges Buch means arbitrary book or any book and he objected:
– No, it means the contrary, preferred book. Because beliebig should be related to belieben, which in turn should be closely related to lieben.
The conclusion is false, but his argument seems somehow reasonable. Looking up in dictionaries:
- Indeed beliebig derives from belieben
- Indeed, although it is an old verb, it's related to lieben and therefore preferred makes somehow more sense than unpreferred (i.e. arbitrary).
Das frühnhd. im 15. Jh. vereinzelt, im 16. Jh. allgemein vorkommende Verb (vgl. entsprechendes mnd. belēven, mnl. nl. believen) ist ursprünglich intensivierende Präfixbildung zu lieben Quelle
It can be one of the many "inversions" of the German language, when studied from another language (Lebensgefahr would be written Todesgefahr in many other languages). But if not, I feel I'm missing an important point. Which is it?