Yes, I know that there is already a thread about authentification here but anyway, in German we differ between the active process of authenticating our selves and the passive process of being authenticated.

The active part would be: we know something or we own something what we use to authenticate ourselfe to the server. The passive part would be: the server validates the information and authenticates the user as an authentic user.

Any reason, why the different meanings are compressed into one word?

  • 5
    The short story is language is not designed. As such, "why" questions are misplaced and fundamentally unanswerable. The analogy I like to use is to another organic system no one ever thinks to question in this way: trees. Asking "why does German have 2 words for X while English only has 1" is analogous to asking "why does the birch tree in my backyard have 17 twigs on its lowest branch but the same tree in your backyard has 9 twigs on its lowest branch?". The answer in both cases is because that's the way it grew, and that's the furtherest you can take "why".
    – Dan Bron
    Sep 5, 2018 at 12:23

1 Answer 1


This is not a case of two meanings being compressed into one word. "Authentication" is the topic.

An authenticating user authenticates with an authority that authorizes them as an authentic user. This whole process falls under the umbrella of authentication, but the individual components can still be named. Many times, people will simply speak of the topic unless a specific component needs to be highlighted.

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