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In the dictionary I found them synonyms, but in Duolingo Hof is translated as farmyard and Bauernhof as farm only.

Could someone explain if they are different at all?

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    Which dictionary claims that they are synonyms? They can have the same meaning in some context, but not in general.
    – RalfFriedl
    Commented Jun 10 at 7:53
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    Welcome to German SE! Note that a question like this could receive close votes, since we typically expect dictionary lookup to have happened before asking
    – guidot
    Commented Jun 10 at 8:53
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    @guidot: I could be mistaken but "In the dictionary I found ..." indicates the required lookup to have happened already, no?
    – bakunin
    Commented Jun 10 at 10:22
  • @bakunin: You have a point here. If some unnamed dictionary claims two words are synonyms and another, that words have a different meaning, I tend to believe the latter somewhat automatically.
    – guidot
    Commented Jun 10 at 10:41
  • Hey thanks for the directions on how to write good questions. Next time I do remember them. Commented Jun 10 at 16:11

2 Answers 2

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The word "Hof" comes from the germanic root "hufa-" according to Kluge/Sebold "Etymologisches Wörterbuch des Deutschen" (25th ed, p420). There it is compared to Latin cavum aedium ("cave of the house") and Greek "kýpai", "houses built from wood and with some fence". They say that probably the word meant some estate or sanctuary on a hill at first. The later meaning "(imperial) court" was added only later under the influence of French "cour", which means the same.

Today, depending on context, "Hof" means:

  • something surrounding some other thing, e.g. in astronomy a "halo" or a "corona". Sources for this meaning can only be found since the 15th century and probably comes from the "fence" the original words alludes to.

  • from this derived the figurative meaning of (imperial) court, the "surrounding" of a king or other noble

  • in the same way the "surrounding" or property of a farmer, hence a farmyard. Your example "Bauernhof" just reinforces that and describes which sort of "Hof" is meant.

  • also in the same figurative way it can mean a court of law or court of justice, the "surrounding"/office of one or more judge. "Gerichtshof"

  • some free space in front of or surrounding (or surrounded by) a house, a yard, courtyard or a "close".

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    See also Vorhof Commented Jun 11 at 7:48
  • A 'courtyard' is an 'Innenhof', not the same thing as a "Gerichtshof' (Court of law/justice)..
    – PiedPiper
    Commented Jun 11 at 21:12
  • @PiedPiper: thanks. Editing moved that where it didn't belong, I corrected it.
    – bakunin
    Commented Jun 11 at 21:55
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"Hof" means "court" or "courtyard" or "farm" or "corona" or "aureola" or - in astronomy - "halo".

"Bauernhof" means "farm".

Hence, when the context makes it unambiguous, you can use "Hof" instead of "Bauernhof".

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