E 0482         ILEX

The word " ilex " is a loanword from Latin

H 0032          א ל ו ן

Concept of root: oak

Hebrew word


English meanings

א ל ו ן

elon, allon


Related English words


Comparison between European words and Hebrew




English meanings

Similarity in roots


א ל ו ן ,

א ל ו ן ;

ה ל א

elon, allon ;

elà , allà

impressive tree ;


impressive tree

 i l .

e l  .

a l .





 i l . k


ilex, elex

ilex, elex


e l . c

 i l . c



ilex, holm-oak

i l . ks



Proto-Semitic *ILON < *IL- --- *ILEX Latin < *ILIK- Indo-European



The common root of these words is "Aleph + L" or "Vowel + L", and in reality "I L" ( as in Indo European ) comes very near, as this same " I L" is found in " א י ל ן, ilon = tree ", a very common word . Anybody who knows the Mediterranean landscape can understand that the Jews used the same root for "oak" and for "impressive tree" in general. They just diversified the pronunciation of the initial vowel under the symbol of the Aleph. So an "A" in "allon" or an "E" in "elon" specified that this "impressive tree (ilon)" was really an oak.


  • Hebrew "ilon, elon, allon" give an interesting example of how the letter Aleph , א , tells the reader only that a vowel has to be pronounced, without specifying the nature of the vowel. Here we see an A, an I and an E .


    The last part of all three, " –on ", is a suffix that is used to form a noun on the basis of the brief two consonant root "Aleph + Lamed", "i (e,a) + L ".


    This is confirmed by the other words for " impressive tree" that do not have that last part : "-on", but " –à ": " א ל ה , elà, allà = terebinth, oak " .


  • Hebrew. Some scholars see these words for impressive trees as derived from a verb meaning "to be strong" ; but this becomes rather conjectural or even improbable, as trees like the terebinth and ilex are beautiful, but neither big, nor strong nor impressive.


    This means that there are just similar roots with different messages. And one should also consider that the root for " to be strong ", is somewhat different, composed of Aleph, Waw and Lamed ( א ו ל ). Another similar root, is used for various concepts, such as " foolish", " in front of " and " health".



  • Proto-Semitic. Some uncertainty is seen on basis of the fact that Akkadian besides "allanu" seems to have had as well "alianu" for "oak", with an "I-sound or Yod inserted after the L. This is insufficient though to presume that Proto-Semitic was , originally of course, different . So we must suppose that it had the same root we find in Hebrew and more languages: "א ל" .


  • Greek. The word "ιλαξ, ilax" is Macedonian and not referred to in the known sources of Classic Greek. Some scholars retain that there has been also the word "*ilex" in Greek.


  • Latin and Greek have these words ending on "ex " or "ax" : KS . The S-sound at the end normally is a suffix that indicates a noun. The K-sound thus in origin has been a C or K, though there is also the supposition that this may have been earlier a G. We have not found indications of a comparable final guttural in Hebrew. That tells us the G or K has been added after the separation of the groups of languages.


  • Indo-European. From the Latin and Greek words one sees a basic form "I L vowel K-". Further Latin words are "ilicētum = oak-wood" and "ilignus = oak-", in which the "K" has become "G" through the influence of the following "N". Base on this information we may hypothesize an Indo-European "*I L I K-".





Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: 21/12/2012 at 11.11.50