E 0716          REACH

The word "reach" is of Germanic origin

H 0066           א ר ך 

Concept of root: extend

Hebrew word


English meanings

א ר ך



orekh ;


to be(come) long, prolong, extend ;

length ;


Related English words


Comparison between European words and Hebrew




English meanings

Similarity in roots


א ר ך


to be(come) long, prolong, extend

a r . k


to reach

to reach

r . ch

Old English


extend, reach

r . c


rekken ;








prolong, stretch;

extend, reach

r . k




r . c



Proto-Semitic *ARAK < *RAK- --- *RÈK- Indo-European



The English word "reach" does not or no more cover the concept of the Old English , Dutch and Hebrew words. Old English, like often also Middle English usually was nearer to Dutch and/or German than modern English is .



  • Hebrew has an initial vowel that is not present in the European words. This "Aleph" seems to be a later prefix, as there is also a root " ר ח ק , raghaq " that speaks about incrementing distance . And also another one " ר ח ב , raghav " that deals with the concept of " to extend, widen ".


    The consonants Ghet ( "GH" found in these two examples) and Khaf ( "KH" as in the root of this entry ) are not identical, but very near in sound and the original pronunciation or pronunciations when alphabetic writing began, may have led to different choices of symbols or letters.


    The meanings " prolong" and " extend" in Hebrew are expressed with the causative form of the verb "arakh" of this entry, that is "he’erikh"


  • Proto-Semitic. Proto-Semitic used the same root we still find in Hebrew. It is present in Phoenician, Aramaic, Syriac , Ugaritic, and Akkadian arā:ku with the message "to be(come) long"., Arabic "'araka = he delayed" and OS Arabic "arkhan= enduring". There is as well an Ethiopian "'arga = he became old", but it is uncertain if this may be related to the root of this entry as some scholars sustain. We do not think so.


    The change from foģinal " K " into " KH " is clearly seen in the North West, in Hebrew and Aramaic, and Proto-Semitic probably had the original " K " that is also seen in Indo-European.


    So Proto-Semitic probably already had "*Aleph, Resh, Kaf )": "* א ר ך , arak", after or together with an older : "* ר ך , rak" with the same meaning, but not yet with the confirming opening vowel, Aleph as a prefix.


  • Proto-Germanic. It is useful to consider together this entry and number E0879 (Hebrew 0826) . The words of these two entries may well be related in origin. Later, and especially in Proto-Germanic, there probably existed two rather similar roots with different or diversified meanings . The two versions were :


    "*R E K-" as in Middle Dutch "recken" with the meanings of "to stretch (out)" and "to tend". This is also found in Old English "reccan" and Old High German "recchen", all with a short vowel.


    and "*R EI K-" as in Middle Dutch "reiken" with the meanings of "to reach" and neatly related "to hand to". This is also seen in Old English "ręcan" and Old High German "reihhen, reichen" all with a long vowel.


    But later in some languages, and specifically in the use of Old English "ręcan" and Middle Dutch "reiken" the meaning of "to stretch (out)" was also expressed with the long vowels, creating some confusion. Furthermore we find in entry E 0879 (Hebrew 0826) diversifications by adding a prefix "ST" .


    It must be added that in Dutch, Middle Dutch and Middle Low German there is a version with a vowel "A", as in the verb "raken = to reach, to touch, to hit ". This appears to be a specific local development of the root.


  • Indo-European. A two-consonant combination, "R" + "guttural" is at the origin of a group of meanings that comprehend "straight, straighten, stretch, reach, direct". Prefixes, infixes and suffixes have done their job for diversification. In this case we deal with the meanings found in our specific Semitic root : length and lengthening in size and time. The cited words often bear also other related meanings.


    Tokharian "räk = to extend"


    Old Indian "rjyati = to extend (refl)", with the "G" or "K" converted into "Y" in a common development .


    Greek "ορεγω, orego = to extend". Greek scholars see the initial " O " as a prefix used for diversification. This may already have taken place in Indo-European and lived on in Greek.


    Important is that the adding of an initial vowel also has taken place in Semitic or Hebrew. In the case of the abovementioned noun "orekh = length" that vowel is an " O " as in Greek.


    Latin in a very developed way uses prefixes for the diversification of meanings. Here we find "porrigo = to extend".


    Baltic with a.o. a hypothesis of "*rezj-" has a Latvian "ruozĬties = to extend (refl.)"


    Celtic. There is a number of hypotheses for related meanings, but anyway Old Irish had "rigid = extends". And "roichtir = is extended".



    Indo-European may well have used a form "*R È K-" for "to extend". Of course besides other meanings.




Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: 21/01/2013 at 12.23.37