[German guh-zel-shahft]

noun, plural ge·sell·schaf·ten [German guh-zel-shahf-tuh n] /German gəˈzɛlˌʃɑf tən/. (often initial capital letter)

an association of individuals for common goals, as for entertainment, intellectual, or cultural purposes or for business reasons.
Sociology. a society or group characterized chiefly by formal organization, impersonal relations, the absence of generally held or binding norms, and a detachment from traditional and sentimental concerns, and often tending to be rationalistic and secular in outlook.

Nearby words

  1. gerzean,
  2. gesamtkunstwerk,
  3. geschrei,
  4. gesell,
  5. gesell developmental schedules,
  6. gesner,
  7. gesner, konrad von,
  8. gesneria,
  9. gesneria family,
  10. gesneriad

Compare gemeinschaft.

Origin of gesellschaft

1935–40; < German, equivalent to Geselle companion + -schaft -ship Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for gesellschaft

British Dictionary definitions for gesellschaft


noun plural -schaften (German -ʃaftən)

(often capital) a social group held together by practical concerns, formal and impersonal relationships, etcCompare gemeinschaft

Word Origin for gesellschaft

German, literally: society

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for gesellschaft



1887, "social relationship based on duty to society or an organization," from German Gesellschaft, from geselle "companion" + -schaft "-ship."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper