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See also: Arbeiten



From Old High German arbeiten, from Proto-Germanic *arbaidijaną, ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *h₃órbʰos (orphan), from which English orphan is also derived. Cognates include Dutch arbeiden, Old Saxon arvedian, Gothic 𐌰𐍂𐌱𐌰𐌹𐌳𐌾𐌰𐌽 (arbaidjan).


  • IPA(key): /ˈaʁbaɪ̯tən/, [ˈʔäʁbäɪ̯tən], [-tn̩], [-ʔn̩]
  • (Germany)
  • (Austria)
  • Hyphenation: ar‧bei‧ten


arbeiten (weak, third-person singular present arbeitet, past tense arbeitete, past participle gearbeitet, auxiliary haben)

  1. (intransitive) to work (to do a specific task by employing physical or mental powers)
    • 1932, Erich Mühsam, Die Befreiung der Gesellschaft vom Staat, in: Erich Mühsam: Prosaschriften II, Verlag europäische ideen Berlin (1978), page 255:
      Wir verstehen unter Kommunismus die auf Gütergemeinschaft beruhende Gesellschaftsbeziehung, die jedem nach seinen Fähigkeiten zu arbeiten, jedem nach seinen Bedürfnissen zu verbrauchen erlaubt.
      We understand by communism the relationship of society that is based on public ownership, that allows everyone to work according to his capabilities, everyone to consume according to his needs.
  2. (intransitive) to work, function, run, operate (to be operative, in action)
  3. (intransitive) to ferment (to react, using fermentation)
  4. (intransitive) to work, execute (to set into action)
  5. (transitive, briefly artisanal) to make, produce (to create)
    Die Kommode ist aus Eichenholz gearbeitet.
    The drawer is made of oak-wood.
  6. (transitive, only with pronouns like etwas, nichts) to do, perform (to carry out or execute, especially something involving work)
    Was arbeitest du?What are you doing?
    Ich arbeite nichts.I'm doing nothing.
  7. (reflexive) to work oneself (to) (to make oneself (a certain state) by working)
    sich zu Tode arbeitento work oneself to death
    sich erschöpft arbeitento work oneself to the point of exhaustion
  8. (reflexive) to work one's way (to attain through work, by gradual degrees)
  9. (reflexive and impersonal) to work (translated by rephrasing to use a generalyouor with the gerund,working”) (to do a specific task by employing physical or mental powers)


Derived terms[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • arbeiten” in Duden online
  • arbeiten” in Digitales Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache