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See also: Lieben


Etymology 1[edit]

Formally from Middle High German lieben, alteration (based on liep) of rarer liuben (to make or be dear, to treat in a friendly way), from Old High German liuben, equivalent to lieb +‎ -en.

The singularly attested Old High German liobōn (to love) probably remained without continuation; the modern sense was derived in late Middle High German from the noun liebe (love) on the model of minnen (to love), from minne, which had developed a sexual overtone. It remained absent from most traditional dialects, which use variants of lieb haben or gern haben instead (compare the usage note below). Related to English love. Compare Dutch lieven.


  • IPA(key): /ˈliːbən/, [ˈliːbən], [ˈliːbm̩]
  • Hyphenation: lie‧ben
  • (file)
  • Homophone: liebem (some speakers)
  • Rhymes: -iːbən


lieben (weak, third-person singular present liebt, past tense liebte, past participle geliebt, auxiliary haben)

  1. (usually transitive, sometimes intransitive) to love, to have a strong affection for (someone or something)
    Ich liebe dich.I love you.
    Ich liebe die französische Sprache.I love the French language.
  2. (reflexive) to love one another
  3. (reflexive, poetic) to make love, to have sex
Usage notes[edit]
  • German is more reluctant in its use of lieben (“to love”) than is English, particularly in reference to things. Such phrases as “Ich liebe den Teppich in deinem Zimmer!” (“I love the carpet in your room!”) are a typical feature of “dubbing German”, i.e. literal translations from English as commonly found in dubbed films or sitcoms. A more native way of expressing the same in German would be “Der Teppich in deinem Zimmer sieht toll aus!”, or “Der Teppich in deinem Zimmer gefällt mir sehr gut!”, or something along these lines.
  • Even when referring to love between people, lieben may have a slightly solemn sound. A more normal way of expressing it in spoken German is lieb haben, particularly among friends and family, but usually also between lovers. (See the latter lemma for more.)
  • 1st ps. sg. indicative present active also: lieb', lieb
Related terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]



  1. inflection of lieb:
    1. strong genitive masculine/neuter singular
    2. weak/mixed genitive/dative all-gender singular
    3. strong/weak/mixed accusative masculine singular
    4. strong dative plural
    5. weak/mixed all-case plural

Further reading[edit]

  • lieben” in Digitales Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache
  • lieben” in Uni Leipzig: Wortschatz-Lexikon
  • lieben” in Duden online
  • lieben” in