This might be a silly question but I try to find some logic sometimes so that I better remember group of words and these words with "Ausgang" always create me troubles! For now.

Ausgang means exit or end, similar to Ausfahrt, Austritt. So, in all these type of words, "Aus" means out, exit or similar.

Each time I come across these compound words I think at the meaning above.

BUT Ausgangslage, Ausgangsstellung, Ausgangsposition means starting position, initial position! Shouldn't the meaning be end or exit position? I always do this mistake!

I think I'm missing something here in the way I try to think. Could you help, please? Thanks.

  • 4
    The phrase is "von etw. ausgehen", meaning "to emanate from sth.", so it could roughly be translated as "emanating position"?
    – Lykanion
    Mar 28 at 15:06
  • 1
    Very good question, never occurred to me. Well, the opposite is “Endstellung”.
    – gnasher729
    Apr 2 at 14:30

2 Answers 2


Every end is the start of something new.

If you are asking how to memorize, maybe think of it along these lines:
Ausgangslage / Ausgangsstellung / Ausgangsposition = starting position.
It is literally the place you leave behind, the situation you exit from in order to venture onto something new.

"Aus" or "Heraus" in the sense used in these words means something along the lines of "leaving from here". And that is common to all these words, possibly often in a sense that the destination is not clear. While for a "Anfangsposition" it is somewhat implied that the "Endposition" might be known or the process(es) operating on it is at least somewhat known (this doesn't work well with the words 'Anfangslage' and 'Anfangsstellung' as these are at least uncommon word creations).

Note also the verb "von etwas ausgehen" (thx @jonathan.scholbach) which means "to start with or from something" or "to assume something"; it literally means (to start) to walk or go from something.

  • Thanks. In fact I thought about thinking something similar but I wasn't sure if it made sense. So basically it's something like "starting a new life" after a previous end. So you're saying the destination is not clear but the end is clearer? Maybe they had a more precise meaning in the past and now it's just a way to say "starting position, initial position" and so on. I just find weird that Ausgang alone has the opposite meaning.
    – David R
    Mar 28 at 18:44
  • @DavidR I think, it would make sense to mention the existing of the verb von etw. ausgehen "to start from something, to assume something, to come from something". Mar 28 at 19:49
  • I initially pondered adding that. Maybe it's indeed a good idea to mention it explicitly Mar 28 at 20:37
  • @jonathan.scholbach I've seen also the comment from Lykanion above but I wasn't really sure about what it was and how to add it. Now I understand that it is from where Ausgang comes from? I don't have much experience in editing posts adding others' people suggestions and in German language either. In fact, I suppose that would be good for an answer? Explaining from where Ausgang comes from? I wouldn't know what to write to make it more relevant but feel free to add it if it's appropriate. In my mind, I had the idea of "der Gang" as a corridor + aus. I didn't think about a verb.
    – David R
    Mar 28 at 22:18
  • 'gang' in Ausgang more like in ' the walk(ing)' Mar 29 at 5:37

You could translate Ausgangsstellung by 'point of departure'. Ausgang means exit, but can be used in a number of situations, which may appear to be contradictory. So, given the context it can mean a start point or an end point as well as its basic meaning.

I think 'point of departure' captures the idea of the ending of one position and the starting point for something new.

  • 1
    Hi and welcome to German SE! You may want to know, that your answer got flagged for low quality. It did not get downvoted, however, so you still have the chance to supplement to it. I personally consider the translation as helpful, but surely the answer would benefit from a complete example sentence or supporting background thoughts.
    – guidot
    Mar 29 at 20:48

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.