I'm marking some definitions as 'archaic' and some as 'obsolete'. From what I understand, veralten means for something to become outdated.

So I think the definitions could be marked up as:

  • veraltet - obsolete / no longer in use (past participle)

  • veraltend - archaic / becoming obsolete (present participle)

Is this correct? Can the words ever be used interchangeably? Are any other words preferred when trying to say that a definition is archaic or obsolete?

3 Answers 3


From the Grammar viewpont veraltet and veraltend are, respectively, the Partizip II and Partizip I of the verb veralten, which means become obsolete. The Partizip I is formed as follows:

Infinitiv+d [+Adjektiv Endung, if needed]

You are right. The in the form of Partizip II the verb means that it is already obsolete, out-dated, while the Partizip I means, in the process of becoming obsolete, z.B.

  • schnell veraltende Methoden (methods rapidly becoming obsolete)
  • veraltete Methoden (the obsolete methods)

Concerning your last question, a few similar words:

  • altmodischold-fashioned
  • ungebräuchlich – something is rarely used (no statement concerning the trend).
  • außer Gebrauchout of use.
  • außer Gebrauch geratend – something is becoming out of use.
  • archaisch and antiquiert – emphasising that something is old (older than something that is veraltet). Some people may still use it anyway.

The following three classify whether it still makes sense to use something but not how often something is actually used (something überflüssig may still be used by the majority):

  • obsolet – something is not really required or needed anymore
  • überholt – something that has been replaced (lit. overtaken) by a new standard.
  • überflüssig – something that grants no benefit anymore (superfluous).

Veralten does indeed mean to become obsolete (or an Unwort-candidate for growing old), veraltet means to be obsolete (or outdated), and veraltend means to make obsolete. Since these words mean different things, you can't use them interchangeably. At that, only veraltet is a common word, with synonyms like obsolet, archaisch, and altmodisch (old-fashioned).

  • 3
    Disagree. As you say, veralten means to become obsolete; thus, veraltend means becoming obsolete, obsolescent, and it is absolutely common in dictionaries. An alternative would be altertümlich.
    – chirlu
    Oct 18, 2013 at 22:50
  • Be careful not to mix up verbs (veralten) and past participles (veraltet). The word veraltet all by itself does NOT mean to be obsolete. It still needs the auxiliary verb sein. Considering this, it sure is correct that veraltend sein can describe the ability to make something obsolete, but I cannot recall any situation where such a term would be used in German. Oct 20, 2013 at 11:28

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