A comment to another question of mine asked me "Do you know any separable loan word?".

I can't think of any, off-hand. Are there any? One would be enough to answer the question.

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    How do you define loan word? Do "hochladen" and "runterladen" (introduced into German as translation of "upload" and "download") count?
    – dirkt
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 17:36
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    If a verb is prefixed with a German separable prefix, I think it can no longer be considered a loan word - It is already germanized to a large extend and no longer anywhere close to the original. And if it is not a German prefix, it cannot be considered separable (because the list of separable prefixes is finite). So - by definition - I think this is not possible.
    – tofro
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 18:05
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    An excellent comment, which perhaps ought to have been an answer (+1)
    – Mawg
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 22:38
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    An example just sprang into my head the other day thinking about this thread. "abgefuckt" has it's own Wiktionary and Duden entries. I think this would about take the cake...
    – Ledda
    Commented Dec 28, 2016 at 10:50

4 Answers 4


As you can infer from the other answer and comments below, we would have to narrow down the definition of a loan verb.

If it were sufficient enough that the root of the verb is not of Germanic roots, then there are certainly verbs.
All these seperable verbs, however, have a Germanic prefix. These are not pure non-Germanic verbs and to my mind we should rather take a look at verbs that have foreign prefixes. Pure non-Germanic words.

Having taken a look at the list of foreign prefixes on canoonet, I can't think of any verb with those prefixes that is separable. I dare say there is no such a verb.

  • 1
    In addition to my answer, technically it is possible that there is a loan verb that happens to have a Germanic prefix. Say, there was a verb in Proto-Germanic languages that became extinct in German but survived in other Germanic languages, e.g. English. Then, we borrow that word and re-integrate it into German. So, supposing this verb had a prefix, there were a good chance that it is separable. And although it's a Germanic word, it's a loan word as it was borrowed from English.
    – Em1
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 14:05

Not everywhere accepted and even the non-separable version might be more common, but it seems that

updaten (z.B. Sie hat ein paar Anwendungen upgedated)

is a good candidate (whether it's good German, that's another story).

  • Yes, that was my point. Update is not seprarable - "hey, Du, update das", not "hey, Du, date das up". BUT, the Duden says that past tense is upgedatet
    – Mawg
    Commented Dec 21, 2016 at 16:04
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    @Mawg I wouldn't be so strict about the definition of separability. For me it's enough that the participle is build as prefix+ge+root-verb.
    – c.p.
    Commented Dec 21, 2016 at 16:10
  • But my whole point on my previous question, was that I was using sperability of the imperative to determine speerability of the perfect tense, and "update das" clashed with the Duden's upgedatet. See german.stackexchange.com/questions/33857/…
    – Mawg
    Commented Dec 21, 2016 at 16:12

EDIT: This thread is rather old however after living in Germany for some time I would like to add a couple of comments. This semester I'm also taking a course "Lexikologie des Deutschen" which will be dealing with neologisms in detail, so there may be more to come.

Specifically I would like to mention that English phrasal verbs that use the adverbial particle "up", or even those verbs that are prefixed with "up" (as in "upgrade", "update", "fuck up", "upload" as specific examples) have a special affinity for being treated as separable verbs in German.

This is ostensibly due to the fact that "up", when rendered with German phonemes (phonetically [ap]), is pronounced exactly like "ab" (also [ap]), and provides some kind of "pressure" on the speaker, at least when conjugating the past participle, to say "upge-" (like "abge-") and not "geup-" (like "geap-"), the latter of which would usually be an illegal in native separable verbs. Given that the English verbs "upgrade", "update", and "upload" are not phrasal verbs, they are far less often separated in inflected forms (as above from @Mawg says reinstate Monica: "Hey, du, date das up!" -> rather unlikely).

Despite this, I have often heard "graden ... up" and similar separated forms of the other words I gave as examples from native speakers, usually accompanied by comments along the lines of "hmm, oder upgraden? Egal!" - and then the other way around - da gehen die Meinungen wohl auseinander!

On the other hand, the loanwords that are verbs in English that are phrasal (at the moment only "to fuck up" comes to mind) are always conjugated separably. Not only as an adjective from the past participle (abgefuckt) but also as an inflected verb ("Das fuckt mich richtig ab, alter", as a man at Frankfurter Hauptbahnhof who had not yet received his Hartz IV for the month once told me).

It should be noted, though, that the popularity of "abfucken", according to Wiktionary, has been pushed by the word "abgefahren", at least adjectivally, due to the related notion deriving from "crazy, out of this world, gone by the wayside" -> "fucked up".

Hopefully there will be more interesting information to come in the coming weeks here.

"Downloaden" and "uploaden" are mentioned by Wikipedia as sometimes being treated as separable verbs, depending on the speaker (i.e. "down/loaden", "up/loaden").

Something of interest is that there are plenty of verbs that have been borrowed from English that, whilst don't have a separable prefix, have an inseparable one whose stress doesn't lie on the first syllable and thus does not take "ge-" in the past participle.

Examples off the top of my head include:

  • resetten (resettet)
  • Let's playen (let's play{t/ed}) (the act of commentating and recording oneself playing a game)
  • 1
    Nicely misses the question imho.
    – Jan
    Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 17:33
  • What is the first sentence supposed to mean? It reads as if at one day they are mentioned as sepatable verbs and at another day they are not. Commented Sep 24, 2019 at 12:28
  • @BjörnFriedrich : it means that it depends on the speaker. Given that the verbs aren't used by everybody and are neologisms, the decision to separate that would likely depend on level of English education and other, unknown factors. So, depending on who you are, you might feel that "downgeloadet" is better than "gedownloadet", or even "ich loade das jetzt mal down" (sounds horrible for me, but I'm not German - but neither is the word, haha).
    – Ledda
    Commented Apr 30, 2020 at 8:58

Not from English, but from Latin:


"Mauer" is a loan word, coming from Latin "murus". If you want a more recent borrowing, take


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    "Mauer" was already integrated into Old High German. I don't think that ordinary people would recognise this word as a loanword. Although OP doesn't specifically asked for that, I'm wondering if there are separable verbs that came into German recently (or recently enough to be considered as a word borrowed from a different language by common people).
    – Em1
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 12:55
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    @Em1 Is "destillieren" sufficiently recent?
    – Uwe
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 13:33
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    This answers the words of the question but not its spirit. The are without any doubt a lot of loan verbs which can be made separable using prefixes - "hinjoggen", "herumrocken", "auschillen" usw. "Einmauern" belongs to this group (I doubt though that anybody except linguists would even say "mauern" is a loan word). The question is about verbs which are separable but do not have a German separable prefix (a famous example - is "downloaden" separable or not?)
    – Eller
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 13:34
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    @Eller The list of separable prefixes is rather fixed, so there are, as far as I know, no loan verbs whose separable prefix is a loan itself.
    – Uwe
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 13:38
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    "Destillieren" would be a good example if it were separable. "Abdestillieren", however, is a German invention. What does it actually mean,outside of what "destillieren" already connotes? Anyway. Canoonet has a list of foreign prefixes. If you find a word that takes any of those prefixes and is seperable, then I won't have any further objections.
    – Em1
    Commented Dec 20, 2016 at 13:48

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