This word is just too much, its meanings are:

finding, switchboard, operator, real-estate agent, arranging etc.

Ok, let's look at some examples:

Sie haben sich durch die Vermittlung einer Agentur kennengelernt.

They met through an agency.

Ich habe das Zimmer durch die Vermittlung eines Freundes bekommen.

I got the room through a friend.

Hey, it's actually pretty simple, whenever I get something via assistance/help from someone else I just use durch+die Vermittlung+my helper in Genitiv. But:

Geld,das man für die Vermittlung einer Wohnung bezahlt.

It probably means money you pay to real-estate agency for finding you an appartment. (I'm not sure though)

Hey, it's actually pretty simple für+die Vermittlung+service done in Genitiv is actually a service someone did for me.But:

Vermittlung, geben Sie mir Göhren 487

Operator, give me Göhren 487 please

So, what can I conclude from all the examples? Vermittlung is in fact 'an operator', that assist you in some way.Let's downgrade examples above:

They've come to know each other with the help of agency operator.

My friend-operator helped me with apartment

Money you pay to apartment operator (the one that finds apartments).

I know it sounds atrocious and oversimplified but can I get away with it?

  • 1
    At the very least, Vermittlung may address the party doing the brokering (operator) as well as the process (operation). I don't know an English [if that was the question] counterpart,covering both aspects, but since universal translations are more an idealistic dream than encountered in real life, I'm not suprised by this. – guidot Jul 7 '16 at 12:06
  • So you derive one of +10 meanings of the word from the context of sentence every time you encounter it? – Gofun Dake Jul 7 '16 at 13:10
  • @GofunDake @ Yes, that's how languages work. And English works this way too. – Eller Jul 7 '16 at 13:14
  • @Gofun yep, but it's always got to do with establishing some routed (i.e. non-obvious) connection between things: telephones, sellers and buyers. – hiergiltdiestfu Jul 7 '16 at 13:14
  • @Gofun I'm not sure what your native language is, but I assure you that it works the same way, you just don't notice because of long habit. – Kilian Foth Jul 7 '16 at 13:19


In all languages (I guess even in constructed languages like Esperanto) there are homonyms. A homonym is a word that has different meanings. The english wikipedia article about homonyms, shows the word »bow« as an example for a homonym.

This are the meanings of »bow«, taken from this article:

  1. bow – a long wooden stick with horse hair that is used to play certain string instruments such as the violin
  2. bow – to bend forward at the waist in respect (e.g. "bow down")
  3. bow – the front of the ship (e.g. "bow and stern")
  4. bow – a kind of tied ribbon (e.g. bow on a present, a bowtie)
  5. bow – to bend outward at the sides (e.g. a "bow-legged" cowboy)
  6. Bow – a district in London
  7. bow — a weapon to shoot projectiles with (e.g. a bow and arrow)

Since this seven kinds of »bow« are seven different words, thes have different translations into German language:

  1. Bogen, Geigenbogen
  2. (sich) bücken
  3. Bug
  4. Schleife, Mascherl
  5. krumm (bow-legged = krummbeinig)
  6. Bow
  7. Bogen


»Vermittlung« is just one of many examples of a German homonym. It has (at least) four meanings:

  1. Preparation of a not yet existing relationship, or a desired result.
  2. Action to balance opposing or differing interests and opinions.
  3. Improving knowledge.
  4. Connect a technical circuit (i.e. phone line).


  1. Durch Vermittlung des Reisebüros gelangte Elisabeth S. an eine günstigere Fahrkarte.
    Through the agency of the travel agency Elisabeth S. came to a discount ticket.
  2. Durch Vermittlung des Botschafters wurden Gespräche zwischen den Konfliktparteien begonnen.
    Through the Ambassador's mediation talks between the parties have been started.
  3. Das Ziel dieser Klasse ist die Vermittlung von Grundkenntnissen.
    The aim of this class is to provide basic knowledge.
  4. Die Vermittlung stellt täglich tausende Telefonate durch.
    The switch provides daily thousands of phone calls.
  • I'd add the (mostly outdated) institution actually doing (4) in telecommunication. And add a reference to vermitteln, from which the word Vermittlung derives. – Chieron Jul 7 '16 at 14:23
  • Thank you yet again for another in-depth explanation and especially for examples with translations. – Gofun Dake Jul 8 '16 at 11:19
  • Strictly speaking, bow is not a collection of seven homonyms, because they are homographs only. To bow down is pronounced differently from the bow and arrow. – Jan Jul 27 '16 at 21:26

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