This question also has an answer here (in German):

Shouldn't they have the same grammatical gender, since they have the same stem?

Just idle curiosity on my part.

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    I'll make it very short. They both come from the same family and are related to (among others) Latin "Verbum". The ancestors of "Antwort" were feminine and neuter, depending on region. Feminine prevailed, probably also because the prefix "ant" stopped being productive and felt less and less "prefix"-y, so people don't immediately think "Wort" when hearing/saying "Antwort"
    – Emanuel
    May 15, 2015 at 22:01
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    @Emanuel: now that the post was reopened you should add your comment above as an answer.
    – Takkat
    May 16, 2015 at 6:12

4 Answers 4


You’re not that wrong with the assumption. While it’s not necessary for similar-looking words to share a common precursor (cf. malen and mahlen, indistinguishable when heard), that’s actually the case here: The word Wort is derived from Proto-Germanic *wurdą while Antwort stems from the same root with the prefix *anda- meaning against. So originally, the Antwort was the counter-word or the counter-speach. Ironically, the English answer and the Scandinavian svar stem from a Proto-Germanic synonym *andaswarō which shares a common root with to swear.

But you know, Proto-Germanic was a long time ago, and languages live and mutate. Most of the words that contained the prefix *anta suffered a sound change turning the ant- into ent-. Antwort was, for some reason, exempt from this shift. Newer composite words would now be formed with the new prefix ent- and people stopped recognising ant- as a prefix — much like the ur- in Urlaub is no longer recognised as a prefix. That basically meant that Antwort and Wort would further develop separately.

Originally, this word did have the neuter gender. However,

Von Haus aus ein Neutrum, folgt es schon in ahd. und mhd. Zeit teilweise der Deklination ähnlich gebildeter Feminina.
(Etymologic dictionary on dwds.de)

(translated) in Old and Middle High German, the word started following the declension of similarly formed feminine words, and thus started acquiring feminine gender. Both genders apparantly coexisted for quite some time, each one being preferred in some regions, until finally — ant- no longer being recognised as a prefix — the feminine prevailed.

Even the declensed formes have now drifted apart: The plural of Wort is either Worte or Wörter, the plural of Antwort is Antworten. I’m not sure whether the different declensions and the change in gender happened at the same time or if one followed the other (but it doesn’t really matter).

  • 1
    If anybody knows which ähnlich gebildete Feminina could be meant by the quote please fire away so I can add them.
    – Jan
    May 16, 2015 at 21:45
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    Thanks for this answer, +1. It is hard to judge all of this information without knowing old or middle German grammar. It would be very interested if someone could elaborate on that.
    – Carsten S
    May 17, 2015 at 7:57
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    Great answer!! Glad you made the effort. It was way worth it.
    – Emanuel
    May 18, 2015 at 21:22
  • *anda- does not strictly mean against; Gegenwort obviously has quite a different semantic coloration, for one. Cp. onto for one, and *ana "on". Or Latin ante and anti both from the same Proto-Indo-European root. Also note the dualism in again, against, wieder and wider (and at least one more pair like that, which escapes me at the moment).
    – vectory
    May 21, 2020 at 23:34
  • I would imagine "ähnlich gebildete Feminina" would be referring to abstract verbal derivations. tun, Tat; -fahren, -fahrt; -kommen, -kunft; mögen, Macht; können, Kunst; gönnen, Gunst; antworten, Antwort; As a non native speaker, it always made sense to me that Antwort was feminine as it fit into this schema. Not to mention other verbs ending in "-e" and not "-(s)t", such as Lüge, Wäsche, and Nahme (lügen, waschen, nehmen). From the early days I was greatly helped with gender by this site: dartmouth.edu/~deutsch/Grammatik/Wortbildung/Wortbildung.html
    – Ledda
    May 22, 2020 at 16:22

Ich hoffe, dass es in Ordnung ist, wenn ich auf Deutsch antworte. Bei Bedarf übersetzte ich den Text auch ins Englische.

Der Begriff »Antwort« ist - Im Gegensatz zur Vermutung des Fragenstellers - nicht von »Wort« abgeleitet. Das erkennt man gut an der Herkunft der beiden Begriffe:

Etymologie von »Antwort«:

nhd (neuhochdeutsch): Antwort
mhd (mittelhochdeutsch): antwürte
ahd (althochdeutsch): antwurti

Quelle: DUDEN - Das Herkunftswörterbuch, 3. Auflage, 2001, Seite 42.

Dem steht die Etymologie von »Wort« gegenüber:

nhd (neuhochdeutsch): Wort
mhd (mittelhochdeutsch): wort
ahd (althochdeutsch): wort

Quelle: DUDEN - Das Herkunftswörterbuch, 3. Auflage, 2001, Seite 934.

Die Angleichung der Endsilbe von antwurti/antwürte an das Wort wort geschah erst spät, nämlich beim Übergang vom Mittelhochdeutschen zum Neuhochdeutschen.

  • 3
    Laut DWDS: "antwurt ist eine Kollektivbildung zu dem unter "Wort" (s. d.) behandelten Substantiv mit dem Präfix ant- ‘(ent)gegen’" – Das deutet dann doch auf eine Verwandschaft hin.
    – Em1
    May 15, 2015 at 16:05
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    @Em1: Wer ist DWDS? May 15, 2015 at 16:43
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    @Hubert Schölnast: google.com/search?q=dwds Es führt allerdings ‚nur‘ andere Quellen zusammen, insofern wäre als Quellenangabe korrekter: Etymologisches Wörterbuch des Deutschen
    – chirlu
    May 15, 2015 at 18:35
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    Deine "Etymology" ist tatsächlich nur eine Übersicht über verschiedene Schreibweisen. Der Zusammenhang zu Germanisch "wurda" fehlt. Beide Wörter sind durchaus eng verwandt. -1. Noch eine weitere Bemerkung: da diese Frage schon in einer Deutschen Version vorliegt, ist der einzige Grund, warum sie hier nochmal steht, dass sie in Englisch ist. Da machen dann auch nur Englische Antworten Sinn. Die deutsche Antwort kannst du einfach beim deutschsprachigen Thread hinschreiben.
    – Emanuel
    May 15, 2015 at 21:51
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    Was DWDS angeht... der Fakt, dass offenbar viele Standardwörter des Österreichischen fehlen sagt nichts über die Qualität der vorhanden Einträge zu tun. Du kannst die gleiche Etymologie in Grimms Wörterbuch und im Duden Etymologie finden. Ich konzidiere, dass du sagst "nicht abgeleitet". Das mag sein. Sie haben sich aus dem selben Stamm entwickelt. Wenn man die Antwort jedoch "internetmäßig" konsumiert, dann wird man höchstwahrscheinlich mitnehmen, dass beide wenig miteinander zu tun haben.
    – Emanuel
    May 15, 2015 at 21:53

I am not a German, but when I did my Ph.D. in Goettingen, I had to take German courses. I reached to C2. There were many questions regarding irregularities in German language. One of them is this word, Antwort with it's feminine article. I got the same question. One day I jumped into a book that explained the change. It said it is normal in a language to change in the process of time, although it bypasses the regularity.

So it was Antwurte or Antwürte in the past. Through time it changed into Antwort. Since it was ended with -e, it was a feminine. When it changed into Antwort, the gender remains as feminine.

So the book informed me.


Antwort is a singularized former plural of wort (würte).

De würte -> de antwürte. logically, the ›Antwort‹ (answer) consists of multiple words, hence the former plural wich became a singular in modern german but kept its article.

  • 2
    Care to provide some evidence? The dictionaries cited elsewhere don't agree with you (Kollektivbildung does not mean plural, see Geäst for an example).
    – chirlu
    May 15, 2015 at 21:56

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