GR 1187         IALEMOS

H 0027          א ל מ נ ה , א ל ה

Concept of root : to moan

Hebrew words


English meanings

א ל ה ;

א ל מ נ ה

alą ;


moan, imprecate ;


Related English words


Comparison between European words and Hebrew




English meanings

Similarity in roots


א ל ה ;


א ל מ ן ה

alą ;



moan, imprecate ; widow

a l . ;


a l m




lament, funeral song

i a l . m



Proto-Semitic *ALÀ --- *IALE-MOS Greek



There is in this entry not a solid basis for the hypothesis of a common origin, but just some similarity.


"Almaną = widow" " has been shaped after "alman= widower." For that reason the usual theories that explain "almana" as " she who has no voice " , because the root "Aleph L M" bears a message of " to be dumb, silent", are quite unconvincing. Another try is "she who is needy, helpness". And again another root "Aleph L M" says " to be strong". So the widower is the man who resists strongly after having lost his wife ? Such suppositions are simply off track. Instead not only a widow, but also a widower may have lamented the decease of his partner. But we have no root "Aleph L M " in Hebrew that carries such a meaning. We see it in Greek. A further complication lies in the verb "armal = to become a widower", where we find an R instead of the L and then again an unexplained L at the end of the word. We really have no clear answer as to the origin of "alman = widower". We have seen a similarity between Greek and Hebrew, but cannot explain it sufficiently.


In ancient civilizations , and also in some still existing ones that can not easily be considered as "modern", it is customary and even obligatory for widows to lament and moan, even if they may not be too unhappy with the recent developments of the case. This is a clear link between ancient Greek and ancient Hebrew, served by the common root of this entry.


One may wonder if English "to wail" has some far away common origin with the other two.



  • Greek No etymology is known for this Greek word, that in Ionian has as more often is the case, a vowel "'E" instead of "A". There is a couple of related verbs and also another noun with the same root and basic message. But a bit oddly, als the meanings "annoying, stupid" are expressed by the words "ialemos".


  • Hebrew It must be noted that similar roots , in Hebrew are also used to express, besides "to be dumb, silent" and "to be strong" : " to bind" and in the noun "allam": "violent person".


  • Proto-Semitic. Various branches of Aramaic use a very similar root, א ל א , Aleph Lamed, Aleph, for " to wail ", and it is quite possible that Proto-Semitic itself was just like Hebrew " א ל ה * Aleph . L . Hé ".


    Words for "widow" in Semitic languages, though of presumably common origin, show considerable variations. Aramaic and Syriac use "aremalta", Arabic "armala", Akkadian "almatu" and Hebrew "almaną".





Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: 21/12/2012 at 11.01.27