E 0658           PADLOCK , PAD

The Old English word "pad" and newer "padlock" are of Germanic origin .

H 0047          א פ ד

Concept of root: fasten

Hebrew word


English meanings

א פ ד


to lace, fasten

Related English words


Comparison between European words and Hebrew




English meanings

Similarity in roots


א פ ד ;


א פ ד ה ;

א פ ו ד

aphad ;


aphudą ;


to lace, fasten;



a ph . d




to tie , keep under control

a p




p . d

Middle English




p . d

Old English


covering, cloak, *lock

p . d



Hebrew *APHAD < Proto-Semitic *PAD- --- *PAD Old English



The principal difference between the Old English root and the Hebrew one is that the second has an "A" or "aleph" added in front of the "P". This should be just a confirming vowel, as often used in Hebrew. We may safely suppose this as we have a word " פ ו ת ה, potą ", carrying the concept of a "doorhinge", which is not too far off. And an "א פ ד ה ,aphudą" is a "covering", with an "א פ ו ד , ephod" as a "cloak" .


Besides this, an "ephod" in Syriac does not have an initial Aleph. This makes clear that that Aleph in Hebrew is a confirming prefix. The similarity with "pad-" from "padlock" is there.


  • Hebrew. Another root, " פ ד ה " (padą) says "liberate", which is rather the opposite of what a padlock does. And " פ ת ח " (patagh) means "to open". But while a key in all European languages is something with which you "close", in Hebrew thinking a key, called " מ פ ת ח " maphteagh) is the thing with which you "open".



    In old times people might use one root to express two opposite but related concepts, like up and down, to and from, come and go. In the case of this entry perhaps also words for to open and to close have been developed on the basis of a common original root.


  • English. There are in English four words "pad", with the meanings of 1. toad, frog; 2. path; 3. stuffed cushion etc.; 4. dull sound of steps. None of them seems related to "padlock", not even "toad" as some believe because a padlock would have a shape looking like a toad, which simply is nor was the case. The peculiar thing is that we have not seen a relative of the English word "pad" in this sense in other Germanic languages. The meanings 1, 2 and 3 have their sister words in various Germanic languages. And yet "pad" in "padlock" was in use in the Middle Ages, with unknown further origin. Old English had a word "pād = covering, cloak" and "*lock". Probably "padlock" is a tautology.


  • Proto-Semitic. There is not much evidence for a solid hypothesis of a Proto-Semitic root. But it is important to note that Syriac has a word " pedetą", with the same meaning we find in Hebrew "ephod" of the root of this entry, saying : "girded mantle ". This as mentioned is a strong indication that the Hebrew initial Aleph was a prefix, an indication that brings us nearer to the root of "pad(lock)". A Proto-Semitic "פ ד , pad" is quite possible.


    The just mentioned word "ephod" has been loaned into English. An "ephod" has two shoulderstraps that keep a breastplate of a priest.


  • Latin. In Latin there is a phenomenon that is rather like the one we signaled for Hebrew here. The above mentioned verb "apio, apere" which means "to tie, keep under control" can be compared with another verb, "aperio, aperui, apertum,aperire" which says "to open, unlock". It has as root "A P R". and one might just wrongly guess that the added "R" seems to overturn the previous concept.


    And to make things more complicated Latin gives us also "operio, operui, opertum, operire", saying "to cover". Probably, and luckily, this word might have no link with "aperio". But scholars remain uncertain about these etymologies.


    Important is that Latin does not have the consonant "D", that is present in Hebrew and English. This makes the kinship with Latin improbable.





Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: 21/01/2013 at 12.14.11