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The article “US-Justiz unter Trump. Goldene Zeiten für Privatknäste.” from Der Spiegel talks about private prisons in the USA. My question refers to the first sentence of the second paragraph (first paragraph is quoted for context purposes):

Nach einem verheerenden Untersuchungsbericht hatte Trumps Vorgänger Barack Obama eigentlich beschlossen, die Verträge mit den Privatkonzernen auslaufen zu lassen. In den Anstalten komme es überproportional zu Gewalt und Todesfällen, befand das Justizministerium. Stattdessen, schrieb die damalige Vizeministerin Sally Yates im August 2016, müssten "Sicherheit und Resozialisierung" wieder forciert werden.

Doch Trump feuerte Yates, und der neue Justizminister Jeff Sessions kassierte ihre Anordnung wieder ein. Wenig später wies er zudem alle US-Staatsanwälte an, fortan wieder höhere Strafen anzustreben, was Obama ebenfalls abgeschafft hatte.

According to dict.cc, einkassieren means:

einkassieren = collect; cash; encash

Pons dictionary adds one more English equivalent: confiscate; and Reverso Dictionary adds still another translation: take [wegnehmen].

With all these translations, however, I still cannot make sense of the expression eine Anordnung einkassieren.

From the context, it seems that einkassieren could mean something like repeal. But no dictionary lists repeal or the like.

So, what does the expression eine Anordnung einkassieren mean?

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There are two different German verbs "kassieren". The author of the Spiegel article mixed them up.

  1. kassieren [legal term] = to scrap, to declare void

A higher court scraps a decision of a lower court. According to Duden Herkunftswörterbuch, the word comes from latin "cassus" which means "void".

  1. (ein)kassieren [commercial term] = to collect, to cash

Like many other commercial and banking terms, this word was imported from Italian into the German language. It comes from another latin word, "capsa", which means "box, case" (again according to Duden Herkunftswörterbuch).

By using "einkassieren", you emphasize that you put the money into some kind of cash box. It is also used in a broader sense for confiscating something: taking it away from people and locking it away.

I think the author created (intentionally or not) a mix of the two verbs, which are different by origin, and meant to say "the order was withdrawn and scrapped".

  • I don't think the author did this intentionally. He or she was just not aware of the different meanings. I see more and more (young) journalists lacking proper philological training, unfortunately. Oh, in the old times many things were so much better. – Christian Geiselmann Sep 4 '17 at 8:46
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Kassieren can indeed mean to draw back an order in the meaning of taking it away. It's a very old slang.

Der Hausmeister hat unseren Ball einkassiert.

Der Bundesgerichtshof hat die Entscheidung der Vorinstanzen kassiert.

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Kassieren is a germanized form of the late-latin word "cassare" which means "vernichten", "ungültig machen" (see Wikipedia: Kassation). The latin word exists further on in the french "casser" where it means "kaputt machen", "zerstören" (see Wikipedia: Kassatorische Entscheidung).

In some european countries there are courts of law which are called "Court of Cassation". These courts ensure the correct application of law in the inferior courts. If there are errors, they (in german) "kassieren" these judgment and the particular inferior court has to deal the case again.

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