I want to translate a sentence from English that includes saying the something is done unhurriedly. But the meaning in this case is not that it is done in a leisurely, peaceful or antiquated fashion, but that it is done in a sort-of grinding fashion. Many possible German words do not seem to have exactly the meaning I need. The word "uneilig" occurred to me, but Duden does not have such an entry. Still, there are several examples of the use of this word in DWDS. So is this an acceptable German word, or not? More generally, is Duden the end-all and be-all of the German language, or can one legitimately exercise this kind of creativity?

  • 1
    I suggest to provide more context or give more non-negative description than sort-of grinding. In the direction of thoroughly I would suggest gründlich.
    – guidot
    Aug 8, 2022 at 6:58
  • Can you provide the sentence in question? This could be related Aug 8, 2022 at 8:57

2 Answers 2


uneilig is not a particularily common German word - it would be understood in your context - even if it's not listed in the Duden or other dictionaries, but very probably with a risen eyebrow. If you look at the references DWDS provides you will see it's mainly used in an archaic or tounge-in-cheek context (if you have such a context and explicitly want to convey a wink to your audience, then of course, go ahead. Unfortunately, you didn't provide enough context to see if that's the case).

That's a problem when translating to any language - As soon as you start to use terminology which is not absolutely common (and, as such, somewhat mutually agreed by a majority of the users of the language) , you might be transporting an undertone you don't even realize yourself. If you want to stay on the safe side, use wording like

  • gemächlich (transports sloth or leisure)
  • bedächtig (transports being slow, but with an undertone of thoughtfulness)
  • beharrlich (transports perseverance and a bit of stubbornness)
  • ohne Hast (is mainly neutral)

With regards to the "exhaustive list of allowed German words" - no, there's no such thing. Any language is a living thing that can only be documented, and that's what Duden and any other dictionary try to do. Dictionaries might require different levels of frequency and commonality of usage to "allow a word in", and Duden is known to be a bit on the conservative side here, and definitely more conservative than the average German speaker.

  • As an aside, I love the way German uses, to transport, to convey that a word has a certain meaning, because that is a figurative usage that, to my knowledge, never appears in (non-poetic) English.
    – user44591
    Aug 8, 2022 at 13:19

Beharrlich oder geduldig wären wohl passende Ausdrücke.

Und richtig ist, dass Deutsch eine plastische Sprache ist, die permanent von ihren Sprechern und Schreibern weiterentwickelt wird. Der Duden fixiert nur, was er für etabliert hält.

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