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Variant of Middle High German gevæhic, from vāhen ‎(to catch) (whence modern fangen). Thus originally “able to be comprehend”.


  • IPA(key): /ˈfɛːɪç/ (standard)
  • IPA(key): /ˈfeːɪç/ (chiefly northern and eastern Germany)


fähig ‎(comparative fähiger, superlative am fähigsten)

  1. (with zu) capable (having the general capability to)
    Der Angeklagte wäre zu so einer grausamen Tat nicht fähig.
    The accused would not be capable of such a cruel act.
  2. (with zu) able (currently in the position to; most often mentally)
    Ich bin im Moment nicht fähig, mich mit solchen Dingen zu beschäftigen.
    I’m not currently able to occupy myself with such things. (because of personal distress, for example)
    • 1919, Walther Kabel, Irrende Seelen, Werner Dietsch Verlag, page 118–119:
      Mein Hirn, überladen mit soviel Befürchtungen kaum mehr fähig, folgerichtig zu denken, fand keine Erklärung.
      My brain, overloaded with so many fears, hardly any longer able to think logically, found no explanation.
  3. qualified; skilled; skilful
    Der König beauftragte die fähigsten Handwerker mit der Arbeit.
    The king charged the most skilful artisans with the work.

Usage notes[edit]

  • In older usage, fähig was construed with a genitive object: Der Angeklagte wäre solch einer grausamen Tat nicht fähig. This now dated, but may still be encountered in elevated style.



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