Why not "seit langer" instead, since the phrase seems to imply "seit langer Zeit"? What's the underlying noun that makes lange take an -m, or is there something else going on?

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    Interesting etymological question. Note that since the reforms "seit Langem" is an allowed or even recommended variant indicating that the noun is "das Lange". "langem" (Dativ) is an adjective with characteristics of nominalisation, see the rules (section 3.2).
    – user6495
    Commented Jun 10, 2022 at 6:13
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    The phrase could be older than our current common vocabulary. Perhaps it dates back to a time when a word other than 'Zeit' was the obvious completion. Commented Jun 10, 2022 at 6:28
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    Isn't it simply that seit requires the dative? Seit langer Zeit ist fine, too, but in that case Zeit is in the dative and langer only an adjective.
    – Ingmar
    Commented Jun 10, 2022 at 8:25

1 Answer 1


"Seit langem" is in fact a proverbial phrase coming from "das Lange" (the long [one]). "Das Lange" would be the case of an adjective made noun and is, as the article shows, neutral.

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    Is that a well-known fact or just something you thought up? Is there any evidence or reference you can provide?
    – David Vogt
    Commented Jun 10, 2022 at 9:10
  • @DavidVogt: Would pointing to the general rule that adjectives/adverbs made nouns are always neutral ("das Große", "das Blaue", "das Weite", ...) suffice or do you want more specific evidence for "das Lange"?
    – bakunin
    Commented Jun 10, 2022 at 9:20
  • I don't see why the construction should derive from the noun when the noun isn't used to refer to time in other contexts. Why do you think seit langem comes from seit dem Langen?
    – David Vogt
    Commented Jun 10, 2022 at 9:22
  • I think that, because "lang" has - among others - a temporal connotation. "Langeweile" shows that and "das Stück hat Längen" also means something like not enough action for too much time. There are also "längst" or "unlängst" coming undoubtedly from "lang" and having a temporal meaning. Furthermore, "Seit Langem" (capitalized) is the recommended way to write it. Why would it be capitalized if not fro being a noun?
    – bakunin
    Commented Jun 10, 2022 at 9:39
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    If that is your reasoning, feel free to edit it into the post. It's just that one-line answers aren't really helpful. (I'll still disagree with the reasoning; disregarding Längen, which is feminine, all your examples use adjectives or adverbs, so I don't see how das Lange enters into it. I think we can ignore the fact that in 2006 someone decided to change the spelling; the official rules even call it an adjective, see p. 65).
    – David Vogt
    Commented Jun 10, 2022 at 10:05

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