Willkürlich vs unwillkürlich

Discussion in 'Deutsch (German)' started by Drisk, Dec 3, 2012.

  1. Drisk Member

    Carbondale, IL
    Sind diese beiden Wörter von gleicher Bedeutung. Bei der Suche vom englischen "random" kommen Hinweisungen auf beide vor.
  2. b00nish Senior Member

    Lucerne (Switzerland)
    German - Switzerland
    First: The most common translation of "random" would probably be neither "willkürlich" nor "unwillkürlich" but "zufällig". Those aren't alway replaceable. You should provide a bit more context to get a proper translation.

    Second: No, they aren't the same. "unwillkürlich" is usually something like 'instinctively' or 'not conscious / with intention' . "willkürlich" ist 'wilfully'.
    BUT there are different shades and emphases.
    So "willkürlich" can be 'arbitrary', 'randomly', maybe even 'moody'. The emphasis is then not on the fact that something is done by will but that it's done randomly like someone feels like doing it.
    (I happened to notice that "unwillkürlich" is sometimes also (ab)used to express 'inevitably'. I'm not sure if this has a deeper background or if it just gets mixed up with "unweigerlich".)

    Adjectives are a bit difficult sometimes.

  3. exgerman Senior Member

    English but my first language was German
    Wilkürlich refers to an arbitrary action that was intentional, unwilkürlich to one that was unintentional.

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