Difference between "weh" and "leid" in German

Hello everyone,

Does the German word "weh" mean (physical) 'pain' and "leid" mean (emotional) 'pain' or 'sorrow'? If not, what do they mean?

Thank you very much.


May 24, 2018


These two words (without capitals) are not used as individual words. They are part of the separable verbs "wehtun" and "leidtun". I agree with you in that "leid" is associated with emotional pain, whereas "weh" has more to do with physical pain.

Das tut mir leid. = I'm sorry for that.

Das tut mir weh. = This is causing me pain. This expression can also refer to emotional pain, for example:

Ihn so leiden zu sehen, das tut mir wirklich weh.

(This is a much stronger feeling than the feeling you would express by "Ihn so leiden zu sehen, das tut mir wirklich leid". The latter is more distanced, a more objective statement, whereas the version with "wehtun" expresses that you can feel the emotional strain as a physical pain.)

"weh" can also be used as part of an (outdated) exclamation: Oh weh! "leid" cannot be used that way.

And there is the noun "Leid" (that's why I wrote about capitals in the first sentence of my post). This is "suffering". For example:

Der Krieg hat viel Leid ├╝ber das Land gebracht.

May 24, 2018

So Oh weh is like the Yiddish Oy vey?

May 24, 2018

It's not like, it's the same written in another way.

May 24, 2018

Okay, thanks alot, this makes sense. What do they mean if they have capitals?

May 24, 2018

You're welcome. :-)

I completed my post while you were replying. (I often do that to save what I've written so far; I've already lost content because I inadvertently closed the window without actually posting ...)

I hope this last part of my post makes it clear. Otherwise: Please ask. :-)

May 24, 2018

Oh, no! That's kind of funny because that's exactly what I just did to myself.

May 24, 2018

Hi Heike. Where is your post? I can't find it!

May 24, 2018

Hi Dessert-Rose :-) Oh, I'm sorry if I sounded confusing: There is only my first post that is relevant to your topic. (It was short when you wrote your first comment, and longer when I wrote my reply to your first comment. With my second comment "I completed my post ...", I referred to that one and only post of mine.)

May 25, 2018

Oh alright. Hehe! Thanks so much Heike for your help!

May 25, 2018
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