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The two words Bestrafung and Abstrafung. I see that online dictionaries tell that both words mean punishment, but is there a specific difference between them?

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Both Bestrafung and Abstrafung are nouns build from corresponding verbs, bestrafen and abstrafen. There also is the base verb strafen. All mean the same but are used at different occassions.

Bestrafen is the verb used most of the time.

Volkswagen wurde in den USA für seinen Betrug bestraft.

In the U.S., Volkswagen had been punished for its fraud.

Dummheit wird eben bestraft.

Stupidity is being punished, after all.


Strafen is used if you are avoiding someone or something.

Die Käufer strafen den Diesel mit Missachtung.

Customers sanction Diesels with disregard.

The past participle gestraft is also a stilted drop-in for the past participle bestraft.

Volkswagen sieht sich dadurch bereits bestraft/gestraft genug.

Volkswagen sees itself sanctioned enough by that.


Abstrafen ist very similar to strafen, but it means the general public avoids something, so there's a great penalty even for those not guilty.

Alle Autoaktien wurden für das Fehlverhalten Volkswagens abgestraft.

All car stocks had been penalized for Volkswagen's misbehaviour.

  • There are more meanings (or contexts of usage) for abstrafen... – Christian Geiselmann Dec 15 '17 at 10:50
  • Please give examples. – Janka Dec 15 '17 at 12:57

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