I am wondering in which way beschweren ( as in sich beschweren) is derived:

  1. be-schwer-en, where the root is the adj. schwer


  1. be- Schwere-n, where the root is the noun Schwere

This question involves elements of both etymology and morphology. My major intent lies in an etymological interpretation of the lexical meaning of sich beschweren. On the other hand, such an etymological approach to lexical meaning is grounded upon morphological facts in this case, so morphological arguments will be as welcome as those of etymology.

  • I just noticed a little discrepancy: Your questions looks, as if you were asking about morphology, whilst it is tagged with etymology. Would you please clarify this?
    – Arsak
    Apr 11, 2017 at 15:03
  • 1
    @Marzipanherz Thanks for your reminder. This question involves elements of both etymology and morphology. My major intent lies in interpretation of the lexical meaning of ,,sich beschweren", hence i labelled this question as one of etymology. Then you reminded me that such interpretation is grounded upon morphological facts, so I added the tag 'morphology'.
    – Lynnyo
    Apr 12, 2017 at 0:22

2 Answers 2


Among other features, Canoo.net offers the analysis of the word formation (Wortbildung).

You can find the analysis of the verb beschweren here:

It is your first version:

be + schwer + en

Looking at your second version, Schwere itself is formed by adding a suffix to the adjective (aka suffixation):

schwer + e

Edit to add etymological information:

In Althochdeutsch, swārī (Schwere) is a female noun, which derived from the adjective swār (schwer). The latter one derived from Proto-Germanic *swēraz.

DWDS lists the etymologic development of beschweren and states that it belongs to the adjective schwer:

beschweren Vb. ‘belasten’,

ahd. biswāren ‘bedrücken, belasten’ (10. Jh.),

mhd. beswæren ‘bedrücken, belästigen, betrüben’

gehört wie das gleichbed. Simplex ahd. swāren (8. Jh.) zu dem unter ↗schwer (s. d.) behandelten Adjektiv.

  • This does not answer the question which is asking for the etymology of "beschweren" - that's why I gave -1 here. Apr 25, 2017 at 17:42
  • @jonathan.scholbach "beschweren" is derived from "schwer", see here for example. What more would you expect?
    – Arsak
    Apr 25, 2017 at 17:48
  • I'd think, in this case, the english wiktionary gives the morphological information not the etymological. Canoo, too, has the morphological analysis, not the etymological. The question asks pretty clearly whether "beschweren" comes from "schwer" or from "Schwere". Your answer does not provide any information on that. Apr 25, 2017 at 17:56
  • @jonathan.scholbach The questions pretty clearly asks for both, etymology and morphology.
    – Arsak
    Apr 25, 2017 at 18:03
  • 1
    @jonathan.scholbach I added some further information (maybe that is why you couldnt change). Hope The answer satisfies both aspects more clearly now
    – Arsak
    Apr 25, 2017 at 18:16

The root of the term (sich zu) "beschweren" is the noun: Beschwer, die (article feminine). The noun Beschwer is a jurisdictional term which colloquial meaning in German is: Last, Beschwerung, Nachteil (burden,loading, disadvantage, hindrance, harm). A "Beschwer" is a jurisdictional negative decision or claim against a person.

(sich zu) beschweren (verb) means "to complain" against someone or something (verb).

(Eine) Beschwerde (noun,fem.) means "complaint" (noun)

Edit: Thank you for the question! The root word is: schwer (adj.) which originates from the Old High German word: swaren. The word Beschweren (vb.) originates from the Old High German words: biswaren and biswarida . It then evolved in to the Middle High German word: beswaeren. Which means (directly translated) "to make something heavier".

  • We may have to add that the noun die Beschwer is no longer used outside of jurisdiction.
    – Takkat
    Apr 11, 2017 at 9:28
  • And the morphological root of Beschwer is...?
    – Arsak
    Apr 11, 2017 at 9:35
  • @Marzipanherz wild guess it's Schwere, the noun Apr 11, 2017 at 9:51
  • @MarcusMüller According to my resources, Schwere is a Suffigierung of the adjective schwer as well.
    – Arsak
    Apr 11, 2017 at 9:58
  • @Marzipanherz Feels like Althochdeutsch swārī, which I think is a noun Apr 11, 2017 at 10:02

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