What is difference between Abfahrt and Ausfahrt ?

They both mean 'Exit' in the dictionary.

  • 1
    Related, but totally different: Abfuhr vs. Ausfuhr. Commented May 31, 2019 at 11:50

2 Answers 2

  • "Abfahrt" means a departure or a descent or downhill skiing

    Abfahrt des Zuges ist um 11 Uhr.
    Die Skipiste wurde für die Abfahrt vorbereitet.

  • "Ausfahrt" means an exit or a drive/tour

    Heute Nachmittag machen wir eine Ausfahrt zur Küste
    (note this usage of the word is somewhat old-fashioned. A more modern word would be "Ausflug")

On highways either can be used to mean "exit"

Wir nehmen die Abfahrt/Ausfahrt Richtung Osnabrück.

Note that since both words include -fahrt, some means of transport is always implied. You can't use either of them in the context of walking.

  • 1
    Technically correct but I would label "Wir machen eine Ausfahrt" as archaic. Commented May 31, 2019 at 12:04
  • 1
    @infinitezero I wouldn't call it 'archaic', but I agree it's old-fashioned
    – PiedPiper
    Commented May 31, 2019 at 12:38
  • Verbotenerweise überquerte ich bei meiner Wanderung die Ausfahrt Dreilinden. Commented May 31, 2019 at 12:54

In the context of "fahren", "Ab-" denotes down from, "Aus-" from in to out, so both denote leaving or exiting.

Whether "Ausfahrt" or "Abfahrt" makes more sense depends on what it is used for and whether the thing you leave is considered more a confined space (leaving from "in" to "out") or a *space you drive on * (leaving from "up" to "down").

If you leave a covered parking space, that will very probably be considered an Ausfahrt, if you leave an elevated city highway via a ramp, Abfahrt makes more sense. Everything else is somewhere in-between and left to the context and choice of the speaker.

For added confusion, the official exit sign on German Autobahn shows "Ausfahrt" (As if you were leaving the Autobahn from the inside out).

For even more added confusion, Swiss German is a bit different here - Abfahrt wouldn't be used for a motorway exit.

Beyond that, both Ausfahrt and Abfahrt are used in other meanings, not at all connected to Exit.

  • Das stimmt doch nicht. Von einem Supermarktparkplatz kann ich auch abfahren, wenn dieser in einer Senke liegt und es ringsum bergauf geht. Von der Autobahn abfahren bedeutet auch nicht, dass es abwärts geht - im Stadtautobahntunnel geht es dann oft bergan. Ob Rampe rauf oder runter oder steigungslos - man fährt von der Autobahn ab. Commented May 31, 2019 at 13:02
  • @userunknown Wo genau steht, dass es "abwärts" geht? Man fährt ja schließlich "auf" der Autobahn. Also fährt man, wenn man das nicht mehr tut, von ihr "herab". Ob die Autobahn in der Senke liegt oder nicht, ist irrelevant.
    – tofro
    Commented May 31, 2019 at 13:44
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    Absatz 2, "up" to "down". Commented May 31, 2019 at 20:50
  • "As if you were leaving the Autobahn from the inside out" - well, that's exactly what you're doing. The Autobahn is an "access-controlled road", an enclosed system that can only be entered and left at specific points, and whose entries and exits are usually built in such a way that you can only enter each lane in one specific direction. For all intents and purposes, you are leaving the "inside" of the enclosed Autobahn system when using an Ausfahrt. Commented Jun 1, 2019 at 10:49

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