German: Knecht

Ali Smith

Senior Member
Urdu - Pakistan
Guten Tag!

Is the German word Knecht cognate with the English word knight? If so, what was the original meaning of this word?

Vielen Danke!
 
  • bearded

    Senior Member
    Sieh hier:

    Knecht m. ehemals ‘in einem Arbeitsverhältnis bei einem Bauern stehender Landarbeiter’, auch ‘Diener, Untergebener, Unfreier, Unterdrückter’, ahd. (8. Jh.), mhd. asächs. kneht ‘Knabe, Jüngling, Bursche, junger Mann in lernender und dienender Stellung, Diener, Knappe, Krieger, Held, Lehrling, Geselle’, mnd. knecht, mnl. cnecht, nl. knecht ‘Diener, Knecht, Geselle’, aengl. cniht ‘Knabe,


    (aus dem DWDS)
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Yes, the development from meaning (the king's) lads to meaning (the king's) armed and mounted retainers does not seem such a big jump. And compare the meaning development of Irish óglach, which can mean soldier, from óg, young.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Yes, the development from meaning (the king's) lads to meaning (the king's) armed and mounted retainers does not seem such a big jump.
    Indeed, but with intermediary steps in Middle English: lad > servant > common soldier > noble warrior (knight in the modern sense). By the late 14th century the last step of the development seems to have been reached (e.g. in Chaucer's Knightes Tale). In German it only reached the second last step in the 15th-17th century term Landsknecht for a common foot soldier recruited domestically (in contrast to a foreign mercenary).
     

    Riverplatense

    Senior Member
    German — Austria
    In his Mittelhochdeutsches Handwörterbuch (Middle High German was spoken ~1050—1350), Matthias Lexer indicates the following main meanings:
    • young man, bachelor (opposed to Jungfrau)
    • man (opposed to wîf)
    • young man in a learning and serving position
    • warrior, hero
    He also gives the translation Knappe, someone who serves a knight and learns from him. So, apparently, 'knight' was not directly a meaning of Knecht.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Yes. In modern usage Knappe means squire (shield bearer of a knight). There is also Knabe (with b), which means boy. Etymologically, it's the same word.
     
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