I was looking at this tweet from the Police is Saxony, and I couldn't help but to be stranged...

Einen Trickbetrüger stellten unsere Einsatzkräfte in #Dresden.

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I can imagine what they were trying to say but... To me this sentence sounds as the police put a con man on the street! That is probably the exact opposite of what happened, no?

How does "stellen" mean "put away", instead of "put in". They are exact opposites, no?

  • this basically means that they arrested him (or are literally seconds away from doing that)
    – der bender
    Jul 25, 2019 at 15:57

1 Answer 1


The DWDS says about stellen

  1. jmdn. zum Stehenbleiben zwingen

(force someone to stop (running, walking etc.))

It can well come as a surprise to come across this meaning of stellen. It's used whenever a criminal is involved, and is what the police tries to or successfully does (like in your example).

Once the suspect is gestellt, he is no longer able to or trying to get away and then the police can go on doing their work and, maybe, arrest them.

  • 1
    It's not ambiguous when used in connection to the police. Once the police did that, it has this specific meaning. Imagine a police officer pointing a gun at the suspect who raises their arms - that's the mental picture (Stehenbleiben oder ich schieße!). Jul 22, 2019 at 16:03
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    It can also be used in a military context, e.g. when a battleship forces an enemy ship to either fight or surrender.
    – RHa
    Jul 22, 2019 at 16:47
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    This use of stellen is from animals hunting their prey. The put themselves into the way of the prey.
    – Janka
    Jul 22, 2019 at 17:05
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    @EnriqueMorenoTent In fact, if it means "put something somewhere", you can replace "stellen" with "hinstellen" or "aufstellen", and if it means catching someone you can not. English has a similar construction - "placing someone under arrest" means just arresting them - it doesn't necessarily mean placing them somewhere physically.
    – Polygnome
    Jul 23, 2019 at 0:37
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    @Polygnome if you didn't add "under arrest" it would sound weird. It would sound like "the police placed a conman" which is what I understood here in the German version. I'm sure it's clear for a native. But for me, it was not. I hoped some understanding. Jul 23, 2019 at 9:01

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