I was reading DWDS's definition of "liefern" (and later "geben") and came across this:

⟨liefern + abhängiges Substantiv⟩in abgeblasster Bedeutung; dient zur Umschreibung eines Verbalbegriffes


für etw. einen Beweis liefern (= etw. beweisen) das Ereignis lieferte für einige Tage genug Gesprächsstoff (= das Ereignis gab, bot für einige Tage genug Gesprächsstoff)

die Gegner lieferten sich eine Schlacht, ein Treffen (= kämpften miteinander)

In particular, I'm trying to understand what this is saying about a usage of "liefern" plus a "dependent noun", but what exactly is this? What sets this apart as a usage of "liefern" from other usages (deliver/supply)? What does "in abgeblasster Bedeutung" mean? "In pale/faded meaning"?

1 Answer 1


Dictionaries sometimes use outdated or curious terminology. Umschreibung eines Verbalbegriffes is what many textbooks nowadays call Nomen-Verb-Verbindungen. Googling this term, you will get many lists of combinations of nouns with verbs, such as the following (note that these combinations often include prepositions, which makes the term Nomen-Verb-Verbindungen a misnomer).

  • zum Abschluss bringen
  • in Brand setzen (anzünden)
  • eine Frage stellen
  • zur Kenntnis nehmen

Looking at these combinations, it is the noun that carries most of the meaning, with the verb only contributing grammatical and aspectual information. The verb's proper meaning is no longer felt in these combinations, which is what the dictionary calls verblasst. For instance, in Brand setzen means anzünden, there is no sitting involved. The same happens for liefern in your examples, where the meaning of deliver is not felt anymore.

With deverbal nouns, the combination can sometimes even be paraphrased by the underlying verb.

Ich möchte Ihnen noch eine Frage stellen.
= Ich möchte Sie noch etwas fragen.

These combinations allow for aspectual distinctions depending on the chosen verb. That is, the following examples are all about moving, as determined by the noun Bewegung, but the aspectual information (cause, happen, continue, …) is contributed by the verb.

in Bewegung setzen: cause something to move
in Bewegung geraten: happen to move
in Bewegung bleiben: continue to move
in Bewegung sein: be in a moving state

More technical terms for the same phenomenon are Nominalisierungsverb und Funktionsverb.

  • Thank you. Sounds like this is not a meaning I need to learn so much as be aware of, that I will encounter liefern used with no semantic meaning, in pairing with various nouns that bear the semantic weight. Commented Mar 12, 2022 at 17:26

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