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.

  • 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). Commented Jul 31, 2019 at 14:57

1 Answer 1


"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


gelungene Architektur


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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