I recently needed to translate some old texts from King Frederick I of Prussia and his son Frederick William I.

I saw several times a word Verwesern between a list of honorifics, but translating this word brings me something like To Decay or To Rot.

Anyone can figure what it means in this context?

Here in the Leben und Thaten des Königs von Preussen Friederici Wilhelmi, Volume 2 enter image description here

Or here in Von Policey

enter image description here

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    Google translate gives me (correctly), “acting head”. “To decay” in German would be “verwesen” (no second “r”). Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 9:37
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    The problem was that I was looking for 'Verwesern' which doesn't yield any results. Not knowing that I can look for 'Verweser' which is the same word only in singular form. Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 12:08

2 Answers 2


A Verweser is a substitute, someone who either

  • temporarily fills in until a permanent person for a position is found or
  • regularly takes over a monarch’s duty during his or her absence.

The latter is the meaning in your case. Note that the title or description is no longer used in contemporary German, except in Swiss German in the former sense for temporary jobs or for protestant priests. It can be used in bureaucratic lingo in the former sense, but it's probably not something the average person would actively use.

As you are asking for Verwesern, that’s simply dative plural.


This is an old word. As we can read in Wikipedia it describes a supervisor or custodian.

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