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Halbwelt ( French: demi-monde ) describes a "sophisticated" and "elegant, but seedy, disreputable social class". In terms of educational language, it is also called Demimonde in German .

Word origin

Halbwelt is a loan translation for 'outwardly elegant, but morally reprehensible social circles', which is a replica of French demi-monde that emerged in the 1860s . Already at the beginning of the 19th century it is attested as the 'world of prostitutes ', but was not popularized until 1855 by the comedy “Le Demi-monde” by Alexandre Dumas the Younger in the sense of “those excluded from their class because of a mistake”. It came into German as a foreign word in 1856, where it was initially translated as half world .

Meyer's Großer Konversations-Lexikon defined Demimonde in 1906 as:

"Half-world", a term taken up by the drama of the same name by the young Dumas (1855) for the class of adventurers of the higher kind, strongly represented in large cities (namely Paris), who imitate the outward appearance of the customs and way of life of noble society (grand monde) seeks; especially for disreputable and dubious women who appear outwardly in all elegance . "

- Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon, Volume 4. Leipzig 1906, p. 628.

Paul Lindau translated the following definition from the preface to the play “Le Demi-monde”, among other things: “We will find once and for all for the lexicographers of the future that the Demimonde by no means, as is believed and printed, the great bunch of Kourtisans , but only to designate those women who have sunk from good society into bad society (les déclassées). So not everyone who wants to belong to the demi-monde. In fact, this society consists exclusively of women from good families who, as young girls, women and mothers, were allowed to associate with the best of circles with complete justification and who have run away. ”In addition, says Georg Büchmann , than you firm principle emphasizes: “› We give, but we don't sell ‹; and they cast out the domestic from among them, just as they were cast out from their circles because they had given themselves away. They belong to those who like them, not to those who like them. "

Literary reception

In Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy is the demimonde a semitolerierte are beyond the "official" network economic and educational society.

Web link

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

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Knaur - The German Dictionary, Lexicographical Institute Munich 1985, page 458
  2. Halbwelt, die ,, accessed on February 28, 2012
  3. Hilke Elsen: Grundzüge der Morphologie des Deutschen, De Gruyter 2011, p. 7, online on Google books
  4. ^ Etymological dictionary of German according to Pfeifer online at DWDS , accessed on February 28, 2012
  5. online at , accessed on February 28, 2012
  6. quoted in Otto Ladendorf : Historisches Keywordbuch 1906, online at, accessed on February 28, 2012