wenig

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German[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Middle High German weinec, wēnec ‎(marginal), from Old High German *weinag, wēnag ‎(miserable), from Proto-Germanic *wainagaz. The form with -ei- is original, that with -ē- arose through conflation with the morphologically simpler Old High German ‎(woe), both akin to English woe. The diphthong -ei- later on regularly became -ē- in several dialects, which further strengthened the monophthongal form wenig. Cognate with Dutch weinig.

Pronunciation[edit]

  • IPA(key): /ˈveːnɪç/
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Adjective[edit]

wenig ‎(comparative weniger or minder, superlative am wenigsten or am mindesten)

  1. little, few (a small amount, a small number)

Usage notes[edit]

  • The irregular comparation forms minder, am mindesten are now restricted to formal usage. They are still commonly found in formal writing as adverbs modifying adjectives, chiefly in negation. For example: nicht minder gefährlich – "no less dangerous", alongside: nicht weniger gefährlich. In all other contexts, only the regular forms are commonly used.

Declension[edit]

  • When not preceded by an article or determiner, wenig is usually left undeclined: wenig Geld, wenig Kinder. It may, alternatively, be declined in the plural, but not in the singular: wenige Kinder. (The latter is preferable in the sense of “a small percentage of children”, while wenig Kinder is more common in the sense of “a small number of children”.)
  • When preceded by an article or determiner, wenig is declined like a normal adjective: das wenige Geld (“the little [amount of] money”).
  • The comparative forms are invariable and are never declined; they cannot be preceded by any article or determiner. The superlative forms are declined like normal adjectives.