The title of the first Harry Potter book is "Harry Potter und der Stein der Weisen". (English: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone)

I noticed that "Weise" is a noun that declines as an adjective. Does that mean the gender of "Weisen" here is feminine or plural? Why is it not translated as the masculine "des Weisen"?

2 Answers 2


Die Weisen is plural here (which means that the gender can't be determined). The expression, which is many centuries older than the Harry Potter series, is a translation of the Latin lapis philosophorum, where philosophorum is plural as well (in genitive).

An interesting question (but for ELU) is why there is variation between philosopher's stone and philosophers' stone in English. Apparently, the dictionaries vary as well.

  • Ja, ich war neugierig, weil der englischen Harry Potter Titel "Philosopher" als ein singuläres Nomen hat. Sowieso, danke!
    – Mika H.
    Commented Sep 2, 2013 at 17:05
  • "Die Weisen is plural here" derived from the context, but definitely not from the wording itself ...
    – alk
    Commented Oct 2, 2016 at 17:43
  • @alk: I don’t say otherwise, and go on to explain that context in my answer.
    – chirlu
    Commented Oct 2, 2016 at 18:46

It is not possible to derive from

Der Stein der Weisen


der Weisen

is genitive, singular, female for

the wise woman

or genitive, plural for

the wise [people]

For the latter the gender is indetermined, it could be woman or men or both.


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