Ätzend! On the History of the Verbs “ätzen”, “atzen”, “äsen”

  • Albrecht Greule
Keywords: change of meaning, etymology, historical syntax, causativity, verbactant constellation


    In German youth communication and colloquial language, ätzend is used as a pejorative for something that is boring, disgusting and unpleasant. However, etymologically speaking, Ätzen is the causative of essen. This article attempts to trace the development that led from the essen causative, Germanic *atjan, present in the Old Germanic languages, to the New High German verbs ätzen, atzen and äsen, which are still listed in the 2007 German Dictionary (DWB). The hypothesis that verb change cannot be grasped without describing the morphological and semantic environment of each verb is observed.