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Alternative forms[edit]


Borrowed from German Gesellschaft, from Geselle +‎ -schaft. Compare to English gemeinschaft.



Gesellschaft (plural Gesellschaften or Gesellschafts)

  1. (sociology) A hypothetical mode of society, made up of self-serving individuals linked by impersonal ties; as opposed to Gemeinschaft.
    • 1973, Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow:
      Seven years later, Hernández wrote a Return of Martín Fierro in which the Gaucho sells out: assimilates back into Christian society, gives up his freedom for the kind of constitutional Gesellschaft being pushed in those days by Buenos Aires.



From Middle High German gesellescaft, from Old High German giselliscaft. Equivalent to Geselle +‎ -schaft.

Cognate with Dutch gezelschap.


  • IPA(key): /ɡəˈzɛlʃaft/
  • Hyphenation: Ge‧sell‧schaft
  • (file)


Gesellschaft f (genitive Gesellschaft, plural Gesellschaften)

  1. company (presence of other people in general)
    Ich habe Gesellschaft.I have company. / I'm not alone.
  2. company (group of people)
    • Da kam eine Gesellschaft.
      There came a group of people.
  3. society, the public (abstract concept of an organised social group or a local population in general)
    • 1932, Erich Mühsam, Die Befreiung der Gesellschaft vom Staat, in: Erich Mühsam: Prosaschriften II, Verlag europäische ideen Berlin (1978), page 253:
      Wie stellt ihr euch eine Gesellschaft ohne Staat und Obrigkeit vor?
      How do you imagine a society without state and authorities?
    • 1995, “Digital ist Besser”, performed by Tocotronic:
      In einer Gesellschaft in der man bunte Uhren trägt / In einer Gesellschaft wie dieser bin ich nur im Weg
      In a society where one wears coloured watches, I only stand in the way.
  4. society (organised group of people with common interests)
    Die Goethe-Gesellschaft lädt zur Lesung.
    The Goethe Society invites you to a reading.
  5. (law) company, corporation (collection of people and assets with a legal identity, which may or may not be separate from that of its members)



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