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See also: Lieben



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. While the singularily 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 latter 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 with English love.


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


lieben (third-person singular simple 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 super 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.)


Related terms[edit]

Further reading[edit]