Die Zeche can either mean a bill, or, a mine. What is the historical explanation for this word to have such distinct two meanings?

1 Answer 1


You can look up this kind of things in etymologic dictionaries, for example here:


From how I understand this, it seems to have been a long story, but to simplify, the common predecessors seem to have had meanings along the line of guilds, of doing something together in an orderly manner, or of putting something in order. So a mine was originally a "Zeche" in the sense of a cooperative enterprise of miners. "Zechen" was drinking together, die "Zeche" was the collective drinking bill that also had to be "sorted out".

  • This is similar to "company", which is ultimately Latin *panis", meaning "bread", so the orignal meaning is "people who eat their breat together".
    – RHa
    Commented Jun 4, 2023 at 8:02

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