Curiously, Google translates "Archfragen" as "Archives", which I suspect is incorrect. "Archiv" appears to be the norm. Also, "archfragen" is largely absent from Google Books.

Has anyone ever seen or heard "Archfragen" in use? Is it a compound word built from the noun "Fragen" (questions)? If so, is the first syllable derived from the Greek root arkhos?

  • 3
    More context, please! Where did you find this word? In which sentence was ist used? Please quote the hole paragraph where you found this word. We are not able to give a well-founded answer if we don't know the context! Btw: Forget the concept of »real words«! People invent new words every day. If you can use it in a meaningful way, it is real. There is nothing like a »complete list of real words«. Dec 14, 2016 at 8:10
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    Google "translates" quite a lot of nonsense. Archklagen turns into "archaeological finds" - but this is entirely made up by some algorithm. The only Google hit for "Archfragen" is a scanning error from Hirschfänger.
    – Takkat
    Dec 14, 2016 at 8:31
  • Algorithms shouldn't supersede accepted translations of actual language usage. (Or as @Jan suggested, should at least throw an error instead of attempting to translate words with no precedent whatsoever.) It's misleading and casts doubt upon Google Translate as a research tool. Do you have a preferred online translator? Dec 14, 2016 at 8:40
  • As soon as you add more words, Archfragen is no longer translated to archives but to arch queries: translate.google.com/#de/en/…
    – Iris
    Dec 14, 2016 at 10:05
  • Good point @Iris, and clever sentence to translate. Dec 14, 2016 at 10:10

1 Answer 1


I would not consider Archfragen a real word. It looks like the plural of a compound ending in Frage but the proposed first stem Arch does not exist. Apart from the first four letters, there is no immediate connection to Archiv; it might as well be Arche (similar to identical pronunciation of those first four letters Arch).

Why Google Translate decides to translate Archfragen as archives rather than throwing an error is their secret.

I would love to know where you found it, by the way.

  • Thanks for your answer, and for confirming that the theoreized stem Arch does not exist in German. I formed Archfragen myself and then sought a translation. First, I thought of the poet Rilke's famous injunction to "Leben Sie jetzt die Fragen" – "Live the questions now." He advised that we embrace questioning as a mode of living, and learn to "love the questions themselves". Fragen also acknowledges the many German thinkers who vocally questioned their society – Luther, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and others. I was thinking of an "arch-question" – asking the chief and highest question. Dec 14, 2016 at 3:40
  • This was triggered by a question in the English Language group, asking to name “the act of asking a dangerous question” -- see english.stackexchange.com/questions/363193/… -- to that, I formulated the answer heresiarchy, then added another iterration to my answer with heresiarch-fragen. (Some wordplay at work here.) Dec 14, 2016 at 3:43
  • English Arch- is Erz- in German, and Erz (ore) is related to ehern (iron adj.). So what you are looking for is a eherne Frage. This is a valid term with no defined meaning yet. Though, ehernes Gesetz exists.
    – Janka
    Dec 14, 2016 at 6:55
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    @Janka Erz- (prefix) and Erz (ore) are not related. So your interpretation has an etymological gap (you could've gone for EN arch = DE Bogen, Gewölbe, too). Erzfrage interpreted with the prefix would just mean a quintessential question or an important question.
    – Chieron
    Dec 14, 2016 at 8:20
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    @Janka’s 1st point is correct, tho. Ur- is also related and Urfrage would be less confusing than Erzfrage – for similar reasons, I guess, ‘archenemy’ is sometimes Erbfeind, not Erzfeind. Archefrage may work in sophisticatd speech. However, these would be understood as synonyms to Grundfrage, Ausgangsfrage, grundlegende, eigentliche, wirkliche, wahre or [alles] entscheidende Frage at best (also see Gretchenfrage, Kasus Knacktus). They fit Einstein’s “proper question” from en#363193, but don’t really imply danger – ketzerische Frage would, but fails otherwise.
    – Crissov
    Dec 14, 2016 at 13:20

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