I’ve seen both translated as true or authentic; I would like to know what the difference is. If they are both synonyms, please clarify when you would use one over the other.
Wahr (true) is the opposite of falsch (false) while echt (authentic, real) is the opposite of unecht (fake, unreal).
The word wahr is used to declare that a story or fact is true.
The word echt is more common for objects. Like if you have a real Rolex and not a replica. So for example:
Die Rolex ist echt!
This is the correct usage of echt.
Die Rolex ist wahr!
This sentence is incorrect usage of wahr.
Wahr is basicly a boolean-value which tells if the relations in a statement is correct or not.
Echt is validity of an object, not a statement.
(EDIT: Depending on context, a statement can be an object in some cases, but this has nothing to do with german language in special.)
E.g.: "I've got a new Volkswagen" can be both, wahr(true) and unwahr(false), depending on the state if I really got a new Volkswagen or not.
The Car itself can be echt and unecht(When the car is a forgery).
The statement "I've got a new Volkswagen" cannot be wahr if the car is not echt. But even if the car is echt, the statement could be unwahr if it's not mine or it's not new.
The Duden says:
nicht nachgemacht, nicht imitiert; unverfälscht
wirklich [vorhanden]; nicht vorgetäuscht, nicht scheinbar
not counterfeit, not an imitation, genuine
pedigree real[existent], not faked, not seemingly
der Wahrheit, Wirklichkeit, den Tatsachen entsprechend;
wirklich geschehen, nicht erdichtet, erfunden o. Ä.
The truth, reality, in accordance with the facts
really happened, not conceived, contrived etc.
wahr is the opposite of
echt is the opposite of
Though knowing that translations can still be different, can they be synonyms?
Let's see the dictionary
I used the dictionary to verify possible translations - Leo is a very popular online dictionary that I recommend.
Please check the translation of wahr
Please check the translation of echt
Both 'wahr' and 'echt' have translations in common: 'true', 'genuine', 'real', 'sincere', 'truthful', 'authentic', ...
Note: The word
echtis also used as a word in the English language, with the same meaning as the German word
They really might be synonyms, let's dig further in the German language bible.
I recommend to use the Duden - the bible of the German language.
Let's see what we can find there:
You will find loads of information about the usage, the meanings, examples and others.
In particular it is said that
wahr is a synonym to
Similarly you find information about usage, meanings, examples, etc.
In particular it is said that
echt is a synonym of
Oh dear, how confusing is this?
So they have different antonyms but are also synonyms. Welcome to the German language. Much of it can really only be learned by heart and practice.
In the Duden the last sections (on both pages) read
Bedeutungen, Beispiele und Wendungen.
I recommend to refer to those sections for good examples of each meaning of the word. In particular there are usages that were not mentioned in any of the answers here. It is simply too much or complicated to cover.
These two words are not the same.
The word wahr is the German word for true and is used to define a statement is a fact or not.
The word echt is used in normal sentences or in questions. First the questions: in the German language you can ask “Echt?”. This short question is used to ask your opposite if the statement is true or not. Echt is also the opposite for nachgemacht/gefälscht or in english fake/imitation.
On the other hand you can use echt to define an object or a person to be real and not in fantasy or in another dimension. So if something is not echt it is not real.
This is wahr:
The flame that burns twice as bright burns half as dark.
This is echt:
The flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long.
Wahr is more oriented to either plain logic or to subjectivity and belief, while echt is more oriented towards objectivity and authenticity.
Regarding the subjectivity of Wahrheit, read the last words in Kierkegaard: Entweder - Oder:
"[...]; denn nur die Wahrheit, die erbaut, ist Wahrheit für dich."
protected by Jan Jun 18 '15 at 15:04
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