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Is there a difference between these two words, and if yes, what?

The question arose while I was talking with my German-speaking friends during lunch, and they argued that "gelungen" doesn't have a translation in English.

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  • My first thought was that »erfolgreich« is used for successful people and »gelungen« for the things that those people do (see examples in the accepted answer). Jul 31, 2019 at 14:57

1 Answer 1

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"Gelungen" ist the participle of "gelingen" and has a straightforward meaning of "been successful" - Just like "erfolgreich".

Gelungen does, however have a less straightforward meaning that becomes obvious in

ein gelungener Abend

or

gelungene Architektur

or

eine gelungene Aufführung

which cannot simply be be transported by translating to "successful". Here there is a connotation of overall having been interesting, entertaining, or otherwise just generally "perfect" in every aspect (which IMHO would be the closest translation of this connotation - I thus seem to disagree with your friends). This obviously goes beyond simply "succeeded" as that would apply to one single definite target only.

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