I am looking for a list of non-compound nouns by frequency (e.g. Haustür would not be there, but its occurrences will be included in the count of Tür). DeReWo does not provide this distinction as far as I understand. Does anyone know such a list?

Edit: my aim is to create an Anki-deck based on exceptions to gender and plural rules.

  • 1
    Is there any list of nouns by frequency?
    – c.p.
    Aug 23 '21 at 18:31
  • The frequency will wildly vary with the considered text base and the benefit of such a list seems to include brute brute force password cracking schemes. DWDS has a rough classification, but whether Bildschirm is really to be considered a composite anymore?
    – guidot
    Aug 23 '21 at 19:19
  • Related: Where can I find a parsable list of German words?
    – RDBury
    Aug 23 '21 at 23:50
  • @guidot: I do find the DWDS usage database and frequency rating very useful, but in my experience their text base relies heavily on newspaper articles. That means that words relating to politics, the stock market, war, crime, natural disasters, etc. get a higher frequency rating than they would with more a conversational base. Subtitles are more conversational, but then you start getting made up words like Minbari, used frequently but only in a certain movie or TV show.
    – RDBury
    Aug 24 '21 at 0:31
  • @guidot: Why do you think a word can lose its character as composite word? Aug 24 '21 at 3:05

I don't think that such a list is able to exist. DeReWo has a list of basic forms of German words and it lists the frequency class for each word. (The frequency class of the most frequent word »der« is 0 per definition, and when word A is half as frequent as word B, then the frequency class of word B is the frequency class of word A plus 1.)

You can filter out all words with a capital first letter, and this gives you a list of all nouns (the most frequent noun is »Zeit« and it belongs to frequency class 5, the next is »Uhr« in class 6 then »Prozent«, »Mann«, »Tag«, »Euro«, »Stadt« etc. in class 7)

But you still have to solve a problem that is everything else than easy:

How can tell apart compound nouns from non-compound nouns? You can try to solve the problem on a very technical level: If the nouns can be split in two parts, you could call is a compound noun and leave it out from your list. (Maybe there also is an extra Fugenlaut between the two parts like the e in Mauseloch or the s in Liebeslied, but in some cases a Fugenlaut also can be a missing ending like the missing e in Kronprinz = Krone + Prinz.)

But look at

Mannschaft = team, crew, workmanship, personell

You can split it into

Mann = man
Schaft = shaft, stem, stock, leg

But here the suffix -schaft is the English -ship like Freundschaft = friendship.


Sonntag = Sunday
Sonne = sun
Tag = day

In German and in English the word is built from the same parts ("sun" and "day"), but Sunday means something completely different than "a sunny day" or "he day of the sun".

Bildschirm = screen
Bild = picture
Schirm = umbrella, shield

I am a native speaker who is very interested in German language and in the menaing of words, but I couldn't figure out how the umbrella came into the word screen, and so 5 years ago I asked here in German.stackexchange this question: Woher kommt der »Schirm« im »Bildschirm«? (Where does the "umbrella" in "screen" come from?)

Jahrgang = age group, cohort
Jahr = year
Gang = corridor, hallway, gear, way of walking, criminal group, ...

The German word »Gang« is a multifunction word. Wiktionary lists 14 different meanings for the masculine version "der Gang" which is an inherited German word and 2 meanings for the feminine version "die Gang" which is a foreign word imported from English. But none of these 16 meanings can help you to understand the meaning of "Jahrgang".

And there are many other words which technically are made from two other parts, but will not be understood as a combination of two words. These words have a distinct meaning that is different form the meaning of their parts: Bahnhof, Kindergarten, Zeitschrift, ...

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