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The origin of “wenig”

Most learners know that wenig is the German word for few, little, not much. 

  • Ich habe heute nur wenig Zeit.
  • I have only little time today.
  • Weniger ist mehr.
  • Less is more.

But what most people don’t know is that it actually has a surprising relative in English:


So wenig is kind of like “woe-y” and the originally meaning was something like woefully, sad, deplorable. But then it slowly shifted toward the more neutral idea of not much.

Which makes me wonder where the opposite viel comes from. I’ll dig that up and add it to another card probably.