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See also: Backen and bäcken



PIE root

From Middle High German backen, from Old High German backan, an originally weak verb and geminated variant of an older strong verb: Middle High German bachen, from Old High German bahhan, from Proto-Germanic *bakaną, from Proto-Indo-European *bʰeh₃g-. The two verbs early on were blended to some degree, each developing both weak and strong forms. Bachen was originally the predominant form throughout Upper German. Backen prevailed in the modern standard language because it was common in Central German and also in line with Middle Low German backen (where *baken is not attested). Cognate with Low German backen, Dutch bakken, English bake, Danish bage, Swedish baka, and also Ancient Greek φώγω ‎(phṓgō).


  • IPA(key): /ˈbakən/, [ˈbakən], [ˈbakŋ̩]


backen ‎(third-person singular present backt or bäckt, past tense backte or buk, past participle gebacken or gebackt, past subjunctive backte or büke, auxiliary haben)

  1. (transitive or intransitive) to bake; to roast
    Der Bäcker backt jeden Morgen 30 Laib Brot. — “The baker bakes 30 loaves of bread every morning.”
    Ist der Kuchen schon gebacken? — “Is the cake baked yet?”
  2. (transitive or intransitive, colloquial) to fry
  3. (transitive or intransitive, chiefly pottery) to fire
    Die Tonfigur muss mindestens zwei Stunden im Ofen backen. — “The clay piece must be fired in the oven for at least two hours.”
  4. (intransitive) to stick together; to cake.
    Der Schnee backte gestern besser.
  5. (transitive) to stick (something to something else).
Usage notes[edit]

The verb backen has weak forms (present: du backst, er backt; past: backte; past participle: gebackt) alongside strong forms (du bäckst, er bäckt; buk; gebacken). The contemporary usage is as follows:

  • For the past participle, strong gebacken is the normal form.
  • Otherwise both weak and strong forms are possible, with probably a certain prominence of the former. For the past tense in particular, the choice is left to personal preference, since neither backte nor buk are commonly heard in vernacular German, which almost exclusively uses the perfect tense for this verb (and many others).
  • Only weak forms are generally used in the – rather unfrequent – sense of “to stick”, except for the past participle, which may be gebacken or gebackt.
Weak Conjugation
Strong Conjugation
Derived terms[edit]
Related terms[edit]




  1. definite singular of back
  2. definite singular of backe