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The prefix ore serves to increase and exaggerate a designation ( augmentative formation ). Its meaning as “supreme, first” (standing at the top) is borrowed from ancient Greek ἀρχή archē “beginning, leadership”. The word component Archi- was taken from the church Latin , then from the Italian arci via Erzi- as Erz- into Old High German . The syllable has no relation to the ore from which metals are extracted.


"Ore" has already been used in Greek translations of the Bible and in theological sense in ore angels ( ancient Greek Αρχάγγελος , Latin Archangelus ) as "first, highest among the angels." With this meaning it became a rank indicator ( insignia ) in the medieval iconography of the angel hierarchies .

Initially, the prefix “arch” with the meaning “first, highest” was only used for church offices, so in arch father (German for patriarch ), arch bishop (archepiscopus) or arch priest (archipresbyterius) , as well as for whose territories ore diocese and ore diocese . Later, the syllable is used as an improving connotation ( meliorization ) on secular leadership positions to indicate their outstanding position: arch chancellor , arch duke (archidux) or arch amt .

To carry this prefix in the title was according to the Imperial Law Golden Bull of 1356 in the secular order of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation of great political importance. Accordingly, a Habsburg prince renamed his normal title of duke to the title of "archduke" to equate his rank with the " electors " (electors for the emperor); the Habsburg ducal house should be considered an "ore house".

In the recent history of the German language, "Erz-" has changed from a designation for power and honor to a prefix to increase a meaning ( elative ), in the sense of "from the ground up, through and through": ore democrat , ore enemy , ore liar or ore crook . With this increasing effect , the syllable also comes before adjectives : ore clever , ore stupid , ore lazy , ore evil , ore conservative or ore catholic .


The original ancient Greek form Ark , from the ore is derived, is still found as syllable in German words like Archi TEKT ( "First, leaders" of builders) Here Archie ( "rank"), and more modified and merged into doctor ( from ancient Greek ἀρχίατρος archiatros , Latin archiater ): "the first of the medical practitioners, senior physician" (see also "arch-" as an ancient Greek word stem in German foreign words ).

Archē (“beginning, principle, origin”) isa termin ancient philosophy for the primordial material from which the world arose, as well as for the reason and principle of beings and their knowledge .

Arche ("the beginning") is also the name of one of the four Titanic Muses , ancient protective goddesses of the arts and forerunners of the well-known nine muses.

Not related to archē is the German word arche (from Latin arca “box, chest”), known as the name of the “buoyant box” Noah's ark (see also definition of arche ).


  • Lexicon entry: Erz- (2). In: Johann Christoph Adelung : Grammatical-critical dictionary of the High German dialect. 4th edition. Leipzig 1793, p. 1956; Quote: “2. Êrz-, a word which […] means every meal the most noble of its kind […] ”.
  • Lexicon entry: ore . In: Brockhaus Bilder-Conversations-Lexikon . 1st edition. Volume 1, FA Brockhaus, Leipzig 1837-1841, p.  692 . Quote: "Ore means, like the Greek expression archi , when it is placed in front of a word, in the good and bad sense the most excellent and excellent of its kind [...]".
  • Jacob Grimm , Wilhelm Grimm : ERZ. In: Grimm: German dictionary . Volume 3, Hirzel, Leipzig 1854-1960, column 1076; Quote: "ERZ, [...] prefix that increases the meaning [...]".
  • Lexicon entry: ore… . In: Meyers Konversations-Lexikon . 4th edition. Volume 5, Verlag des Bibliographisches Institut, Leipzig / Vienna 1885–1892, p. 829. Quotation: "Erz ..., German prefix, [...] means increasing the dignity indicated by the simple word [...]".
  • Lexicon entry: ore… . In: Brockhaus Konversations-Lexikon 1894–1896, Volume 6, p. 333. Also: Volume 6, Leipzig 1906, p. 85; Quote: "Erz [...] Later this prefix was added to titles and dignities to indicate the higher degree [...], but then also used to form flattering, but especially scolding expressions [...]".

Web links

Wiktionary: ore  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Entry: Archangel (Archangel, Arch Shepherd, Archfather). In: Michaela Bauks u. a. (Ed.): The scientific Bible lexicon on the Internet (WiBiLex). Stuttgart 2006 ff .; Quote: “Behind the prefix is ​​the Greek arch- =“ first, upper ”. Designation for the "first" in the rank, ie highest. "
  2. a b Lexicon entry: Archi . In: Meyers Konversations-Lexikon . 4th edition. Volume 1, Verlag des Bibliographisches Institut, Leipzig / Vienna 1885–1892, p. 771. Quote: “Archi (Arci, before vowels, especially before i and y, also just Arch), a Greek prefix of many words which initially with titles a higher degree of dignity or violence and our resulting ore, z. B. Archicancellarius (Arch Chancellor), Archiepiscopus (Archbishop), Archidux (Archduke) etc. corresponds. It also has the meanings of "ur" and "perfect" or "in the highest degree" [...] ".
  3. a b c Word entry: ore. In: Digital dictionary of the German language . Retrieved July 30, 2019
  4. Duden online : Archdemokrat, arch enemy , arch liar, arch crook , all accessed on July 30, 2019.
  5. Duden online : erzgescheit, erzdumm, erzfaul, erzböse, arch-conservative, erzkatholisch, all accessed on July 30 of 2019.