German word of the day: Vorwurf

Imogen Goodman
Imogen Goodman - [email protected]
German word of the day: Vorwurf
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Whether it's a high-profile court case or a conflict between friends, this nifty German word is used to apportion blame.


Why do I need to know Vorwurf?

Because this handy word crops up not only in legal settings, but also in more casual social settings too, and it's a helpful one to know whenever there are issues or misunderstandings. 

What does it mean? 

Der Vorwurf (pronounced like this) can be translated into English as an accusation or allegation, though it can also mean a criticism or reproach.

In a German court case, one party - the defendant - will generally have at least one Vorwurf, or several Vorwürfe, against them, which they then have to disprove.

In more social settings, you might use Vorwurf to describe reproaching a friend or accusing them of doing something wrong.

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In this instance, vorwürfen can be used as a verb, but if you're using the noun you would usually use 'machen' and the dative case, i.e. jemandem Vorwürfe machen (to make accusations against someone). 

On the other hand, if you feel you're being wrongly accused of something, you might decide to rebut or dismiss the accusation - or in German, den Vorwurf zurückweisen. 


Use it like this:

Er wies die Vorwürfe zurück, er sei während des Unfalls anwesend gewesen.

He rejected the accusation that he was present during the accident.

Er hat mich vorgeworfen, gelogen zu haben.

He accused me of lying. 


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