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From Middle High German gelten, from Old High German geltan, from Proto-Germanic *geldaną, from Proto-Indo-European *gʰeldʰ- (to pay). Compare Dutch gelden, English yield, Icelandic gjalda.



gelten (class 3 strong, third-person singular simple present gilt, past tense galt, past participle gegolten, auxiliary haben)

  1. (intransitive) to be valid; to count; to hold true
  2. (intransitive) to be effective; to be in force
    • 2010, Der Spiegel, issue 21/2010, page 37:
      Doch das Gesetz der Demokratie gilt nur zwischen den Bürgern und ihrem Staat. In der Außenpolitik gilt traditionell das Primat der Regierung.
      But the law of democracy is only in force between the citizens and their state. In foreign policy the primacy of the government is traditionally in force.
  3. (transitive) to be worth
  4. (intransitive, formal) to be for/of (+ dative)
    • 1902, Stefan Zweig, ‘Die Wanderung’:
      Sein erster Gedanke galt der Zeit, und er sprang rasch vom Lager, um nach der Sonne zu sehen.
      His first thought was of the time, and he sprang quickly out of bed to see the sun.
  5. (intransitive, with “als” or “für) to be regarded (as something); to pass (for something)
  6. (impersonal) to be necessary
    • 2010, Der Spiegel, issue 25/2010, page 77:
      Es gilt deshalb, die richtigen Lehren aus der Krise zu ziehen, aus den Fehlern der Vergangenheit zu lernen, um die Zukunft zu sichern.
      Therefore it is necessary to draw the right lessons from the crisis, to learn from the mistakes of the past for securing the future.
  7. (intransitive, with “lassen) to pass; to go; (Often translated with lassen as a unit into allow, endure, permit, accept, etc.)
    Das will ich ausnahmsweise mal gelten lassen.
    I will let that pass [allow, concede, endure, permit, accept that] as an exception.


  • Neither form of the subjunctive II is common in contemporary German. While gölte sounds archaic, gälte is also avoided since it is homophonous with the forms of the present.


  • (count): gilden (colloquial; childish)

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