Why is there the extra syllable "ent" in the noun?


According to the Digitales Wörterbuch der Deutschen Sprache it originates from mhd. ūfenthalt, "place for staying", which is an extension of mhd. enthalt, which means "resting/standstill/end" (in modern German it changed its (verb) meaning to "contain" or reflexive "abstain")

The prefix ent- in connection with verbs can express the beginning of a process (though this is now for modern German), so it could be related to a continued stopping, ie standstill. However, this is just my educated guess — etymology is often guesswork and usually not certain.

In the same dictionary there is no specific etymology given for aufhalten, so I guess this is just a straight forward modern combination of the prefix auf- with the stem halten. Auf- can express the result or completion of an action, so by stopping someone/something they are then halted. Again the caveat here is that this is for modern German.

So while Aufenthalt and aufhalten both ultimately derive from halten, they have taken different paths in their etymological life.

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  • DWDS does link the DWB. Which does not admit an etymology for aufhalten, but implicitly suggests a line of derivation. It also shows Dutch and Swedish comparands, so it's not "modern" at least. – vectory Mar 1 at 13:53
  • @vectory Yes, "modern" is rather relative here. I meant in comparison to mhd. – Oliver Mason Mar 1 at 13:59
  • err, yes, if the comparands reflect very different sense, you might be correct. – vectory Mar 1 at 14:10
  • on another note, I'd like to compare aufhören (see aufhalten #7 in DWB) with gehören, wo gehörst du hin? to aufenthalt, perhaps also Hort, or Fr arreter, Lat arrest-, rest- (i.e. En to rest), assuming rhotazism l ~ r. That was asked about over at Ling.SE. semantic related belong is uncertain as well. – vectory Mar 1 at 14:14

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