In a formal letter that I received there was a sentence

Gerne werden wir Sie aus der Haft entlassen per 31.05.2019.

It is regarding rental agreement, but the only translation for Haft, that I've found is prison and I am not being actually released from prison.

If I search for whole sentence I only find literal meaning. That's why I wonder how to properly translate it.

Is the following translation correct?

We let you go of any obligation

  • 10
    Is it possible, that "Haft" is simply an error? Could it be instead "Haftung"? This is still weird, but it would be close to your proposal with "obligation".
    – IQV
    Apr 25, 2019 at 8:57
  • 3
    Probably a shortened form of "Haftung" (liability) Apr 25, 2019 at 8:58
  • 8
    Maybe she meant "Haftung", because it is about ending contract.
    – matvs
    Apr 25, 2019 at 9:12
  • 1
    It could not be a joke, it is official letter.
    – matvs
    Apr 25, 2019 at 9:12
  • 6
    It sounds like someone who didn't speak German used Google Translate to create this document Apr 25, 2019 at 9:15

5 Answers 5


For me it sounds like bad German, because I don't know any other meaning of Haft than prison.

"Liability" or your "obligation" would fit much butter, because there should be used Haftung, while Haft is connected to Verhaftung as in the same context/ meaning^^.

  • Doesn't make sense either. "Aus der Haftung entlassen" is not a thing that one can do "per [date]". Either you are responsible, or you aren't. No date possible. (That's if Haftung is really what they mean.) Apr 25, 2019 at 9:38
  • 11
    One can be "aus der Haftung entlassen werden per Datum", which means that one is no longer responsible for a liability after the specified date. Apr 25, 2019 at 11:19

As you said that this letter is from a Swiss speaker I think this is could be Swiss dialect for "aus der Haftung entlassen am [Datum]", mean your contract ends at this date.

Nevertheless I want to point out, that there can be in fact a metaphorical meaning: "Haft" can be interpreted as "Geiselhaft" (to held hostage), meaning that you are under some kind of oppression by the other party and this oppression will end.

  • 3
    Did you find any dictionary entry or similar that supports the theory that using Haft instead of Haftung is used in Swiss dialects?
    – Arsak
    Apr 25, 2019 at 10:45
  • 2
    No, this is just a theory evolving from the fact that the suffix "-ung" is spoken "-ig" in many Swiss dialects. Shorten the word even more leads to completly omitting it. But I am not a native speaker of any Siwss dialect so this is just guessing and linguistic intution based on my expirience with Swiss dialects.
    – Madjosz
    Apr 25, 2019 at 10:57
  • I have a word in my mind where they actually do that, but I am not getting to it.
    – Madjosz
    Apr 25, 2019 at 11:03
  • 1
    But OP mentions it is a formal writen letter.
    – IQV
    Apr 25, 2019 at 11:12

Your translation is correct. As @Madjosz already suspected, Haft, in Schweizerdeutsch can mean collateral (left column, end of second third, fourth meaning). That said, it is not commonly used that way. What @Shegit said still holds true: Haftung would be more appropriate.


As a native speaker I can say that there is no metaphorical meaning I know or could think of. "Haft" in context of prison is a legal term and only applies if a judge sentences someone to a kind of incarceration. This only made sence if you were currently in prison and it would never appear in a letter regarding of rental agreements - only in letters from a court, judge or possibly lawyer.

Like almost every word, "Haft" can have different meanings depending on the context. It can mean "imprisonment", "liability" or "adhesion". It can't be the legal term that means "incarceration" (since you can't be released from prison if you are not in prison) and it is obviously not "adhesion" so the only possible meaning is "liability" even though that is i.m.o. the least common one and is more likely to be translated as "Haftung" (Though it is correct to use "liability" for "Haft" and vice versa). It is the only meaning that makes any sence here.

You propably asked to terminate the rental agreement and they agreed and clarified the date when the liabilities end.

No metaphore, just uncommon wording and the mutual agreement not to continue the rental agreement after 2019-05-31.

  • 1
    And we all know how uncommon the language of official documents can be sometimes.
    – Mircea Ion
    Apr 25, 2019 at 18:50
  • I know different meaning of Haft only dependent from pre and post syllables. After that comes the context. Like verhaftet werden vs. xxx verhaftet sein. So I am different opinion on parts of your answer, like Haft can mean liability or adhesion. That is in my opinion reserved to Haftung only. Apr 25, 2019 at 21:07
  • 1
    @ShegitBrahm: Pre and post syllables don't change the meaning of the word, they create a new word with the same radical/ word stem. Just type in "Haft" in any tranflator or look it up in any dictionary and you'll see that there are mulitble meanings. As a native speaker I often times don't know the exact rules but I DO know how the language works. Pre and post syllables change the word, inherit the meaning and give context to it. Btw. "Haftung" and "ver-" make "Verhaftung", whitch means detention again. The rdical "Haft" has three possible meanings depending on word formation and context.
    – hajef
    Apr 26, 2019 at 9:08
  • @hajef: Zwar gibt es Metaphern die so häufig verwendet werden, dass der unmetaphorische Gebrauch hervorgehoben werden muss (Gang nach Canossa), aber es gibt keine Liste von Metaphern. Ein Wort ist eine Metapher, wenn es jemand als Metapher verwendet. Jedes Wort kann metaphorisch verwendet werden. Apr 27, 2019 at 11:35
  • After looking up different dictionaries I find for the specific Haft as a noun only different meaning after adding pre- and post syllables. The linking between jail and adhesion I see only in the metaphorical of the stem "when you are in jail, you stay there longer = when you are glued to sth you stick to it longer" de-en.dict.cc/?s=haft dict.leo.org/englisch-deutsch/haft de.pons.com/… dict.tu-chemnitz.de/… Apr 29, 2019 at 8:03

In (parts of) Switzerland, Haft can also mean Pflicht. This gets us to jdn. aus der Pflicht entlassen, and we may read:

Gerne werden wir Sie aus dem Vertrag entlassen.

As far as I understand it, that's what it's all about.

  • 2
    Is there any chance you've found a dictionary entry that support this usage or maybe examples from Swiss newspaper articles or similar?
    – Arsak
    Apr 27, 2019 at 8:05
  • Yes, there is a chance. :-) Haft in the meaning of Pflicht can be found in Schweizer Idiotikon, idiotikon.ch/online-woerterbuch May 3, 2019 at 12:42
  • please edit your answer and add it there. It will improve your post and makes sure the information doesn't get lost when the comments will be deleted
    – Arsak
    May 3, 2019 at 12:47

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