Do you know any example of German noun that is

  1. Feminine
  2. Ends on ung
  3. Is not the result of taking the word stem of a verb and adding the suffix ung

Or can you prove that such a word does not exist?

Just to clarify, I am not asking for an example of a non-feminine noun with suffix ung such as der Schwung, but simply a word satisfying the above criteria.

  • 4
    Welcome to German Language SE. While your question is answerable as it stands, can you specify why you want to know this? This way we can probably give you a more helpful answer. – Wrzlprmft Mar 29 '20 at 9:44
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    @ Wrzlprmft I am mathematician by education, so I love to have examples and counterexamples to such rules. It is not exactly important, but I was very curious : ) – AfterMath Mar 29 '20 at 9:49
  • I've added the etymology tag. This seems to be related to etymology in 1st place. – πάντα ῥεῖ Mar 29 '20 at 10:05
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    I am also a math-ish guy, so I am curious as to what you expected a proof of non-existence in a natural language to look like! – JonathanZ supports MonicaC Mar 31 '20 at 17:32
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    A bit out of the box: If we use poetic freedom to leave out the final e, then die Zunge becomes die Zung :) (Same with die Lung ) – Hagen von Eitzen Mar 31 '20 at 20:45

I think that die Zeitung fulfills the criteria.

  • 3
    Sure does! Nice : ) – AfterMath Mar 29 '20 at 9:47
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    I am now curious if there are more examples. If so, they seem to be rare. – πάντα ῥεῖ Mar 29 '20 at 9:52
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    Note that Zeitung is a loan and is derived from a verb plus -ung/-ing in the source language. – David Vogt Mar 29 '20 at 9:53

I wrote a little Python script (see below) to find candidate words. It takes a dictionary and yields all uppercase words that end on ung unless:

  • there exists a corresponding lowercase word ending on en, eln, or ern. For example bergen → Bergung, kapseln → Kapselung, mitteln → Mittlung, weigern → Weigerung. The presumed verb must at least have five letters to avoid false negatives due to such words as den, gen, wen, etc.
  • the word is longer than 10 letters and end on ierung (to exclude false positives such as Balkanisierung or Hierarchisierung);
  • removing three or more characters from the beginning results in a match according to the first point or another dictionary word ending on ung (to exclude false positives originating from composites). That match must at least have five letters to avoid false negatives because of words like Dung.

As pointed out by this answer, this script has false negatives such as Innung, which is not found because of the adverb innen. (Though in this case the origin is a verb innen, which is not in use anymore.)

This gives you 94 candidates, namely: Abforstung, Abgeltung, Abhandlung, Abhärtung, Abplattung, Abschwung, Absprung, Alarmübung, Angriffsübung, Anwandelung, Anwandlung, Atemübung, Atomversuchsübung, Aufwärmübung, Ausgasung, Bedachung, Bedüsung, Behaarung, Beköstigung, Beplankung, Bereifung, Beriemung, Besatzung, Bestuhlung, Böschung, Deckelung, Diktatübung, Dung, Eisprung, Entvölkerung, Erbitterung, Ertüchtigung, Fingerübung, Firmung, Fleckung, Gattung, Gefechtsübung, Gemarkung, Genugtuung, Gesittung, Halterung, Häutung, Hoffnung, Höhlung, Hydrierung, Kaperung, Körnung, Kröpfung, Laibung, Legierung, Markung, Maserung, Nahrung, Normung, Nutznießung, Ölbohrung, Ölheizung, Ölleitung, Ölrechnung, Ölung, Pflichtübung, Planierung, Polung, Protektorung, Quittung, Rötung, Samsung, Satzung, Schlafzimmerübung, Schwung, Sprung, Stallung, Stilübung, Stundung, Teuerung, Truppenübung, Überhöhung, Übung, Umdeutung, Umeichung, Umschwung, Unbildung, Unordnung, Unzahlung, Urbevölkerung, Urfassung, Ursprung, Verstädterung, Vorübung, Waldung, Wehrübung, Zeitung, Zinkung, and Zulieferung

We can now manually exclude obvious false positives that are not feminine or where the corresponding verb exists but is irregular, short, archaic, etc. This leaves us with:

  • Laibung, for which I fail to find anything about its origin.
  • Waldung, whose origin is somewhat unclear but does not appear to be a verb. (This was first mentioned by this answer, which made me find an problem with my script.)
  • Zeitung, which originates from an ancient verb according to Grimm’s Dictionary (as pointed out by David Vogt).
  • Satzung, which originates from an ancient verb according to Grimm’s Dictionary
  • Markung, which originates from the archaic verb marken.
  • Fleckung, which originates from the archaic verb flecken.
  • Quittung, which originates from quittieren or its predecessors (frz. quitter). It’s a bit odd that it’s not Quittierung, but here I would suspect that the ier was added to the verb (as opposed to being omitted from the noun) since quitten would not work so well as a verb in German.
  • Protektorung, which seems to be a bug in the dictionary, because I cannot find any usage that does not seem like an accident on the Internet.

The script

This requires Python 3.8 and Aspell:

import subprocess
dictionary_process = subprocess.Popen(
        "aspell -l de dump master | aspell -l de expand",
        shell = True,
        stdout = subprocess.PIPE,
        encoding = "utf-8"

unged_verbs = set()
ungs = set()

while line := dictionary_process.stdout.readline():
    for word in line.split():
        if len(word)>=5 and word[0].islower():
            if word.endswith("en"):
                unged_verbs.add( word[:-2].title()+"ung" )
            if word.endswith("eln"):
                unged_verbs.add( word[:-3].title()+"lung" )
                unged_verbs.add( word[:-1].title()+"ung" )
            if word.endswith("ern"):
                unged_verbs.add( word[:-1].title()+"ung" )
        elif word[0].isupper() and word.endswith("ung"):

all_ungs = unged_verbs|ungs
for candidate in ungs-unged_verbs:
    if candidate.endswith("ierung") and len(candidate)>10:

    for i in range(3,len(candidate)-5):
        if candidate[i:].title() in all_ungs:
  • 2
    why does Lichtung not appear in the candidates list? – dlatikay Mar 29 '20 at 23:00
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    also, I would not be too quick to exclude Böschung (der Busch), Höhlung (die Höhle rather than sich höhlen? as opposed to sich wölben > die Wölbung) and likely Körnung (das Korn) either. – dlatikay Mar 30 '20 at 0:40
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    @Jesko Hüttenhain: meinen is a verb. – user24582 Mar 30 '20 at 10:04
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    @dlatikay: sich lichten is a matching verb, but there is also Licht (substantive) and licht (adjective), so it is not clear. – user24582 Mar 30 '20 at 10:06
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    die Lichtung ist wohl genauso wie waidm. die Dickung nicht von (sich) lichten oder (sich ver-)dichten/dicken gebildet, sondern vom Adjektiv, im Falle der Dickung sicherlich (vgl. das Dickicht). Hypthese: Alles, was mit dem Wald zu tun hat, gilt :) – dlatikay Mar 30 '20 at 13:52

Another, less common, word that might fit your criteria (and that was not found by the script) is die Innung (the guild).

Although it seems that originally there was the verb innen in middle-high German, it is not the case in contemporary German.


I have found another one: die Waldung.

Regarding its etymology, Wiktionary and Grimm's dictionary claim that Waldung is a collective formation of Wald before the 17th century, which, however, cannot be proven. Grimm's also reveals that it may have been formed by similarity to the earlier word feldung. Interestingly, Feldung would be a candidate word, too, if it only belonged to the contemporary German vocabulary—but it doesn't.


I'd propose "Körnung" which indicates the coarseness of sandpaper and other materials. While there is a verb "körnen" for pre-denting material you want to drill, it is unrelated. Interestingly it is in Wrzlprmft's unculled mechanically generated list but seems to have been removed manually.

There is also "Niederung".

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