The words "aurora" and "aurum" are of Latin origin .

H 0088 א ו ר

Concept of root: to shine, light

Hebrew word


English meanings

א ו ר


to shine, shimmer, light

Related English words

aurora, aurum, from Latin

Comparison between European words and Hebrew




English meanings

Similarity in roots


א ו ר


to shine, shimmer, light

o r


* ar, *arg, *arj

ar, arg, arj

to shine, light, shimmer

a r


αργος ;


αργυρος; αργιλλος

argos ;




shiny, glittering ;

silver ;


a r g


aurora; aurum

aurora; aurum

aurora ; gold

au r



Proto-Semitic *OR --- *OR-, AR- Indo-European



With this entry we avail ourselves of the commonly accepted thesis of an Indo-European root "*arg", "*arj" or "*ar", meaning "to shine, shimmer, give light". This is also the meaning of the Hebrew root that is mentioned here: "or". Shininess and glittering could be found by early humans in the light of the sun and the moon and especially in the reflections of the light. These are common in water, dew, raindrops, but relatively rare in the earth as such.


The great exception are metals. It is well-known that shininess is an important distinguishing quality of all metals, a characteristic that is rather rarely found in non-metals. Therefore it is not surprising if Man, upon discovering metals, used the word he normally used for "shiny" also in giving a name to shiny metals. This should be at the origin of the names of early-known noble metals as gold and silver, and also of copper.


But these supposed Indo-European roots are only part of the picture, that is based on the same original "*O R" found in Hebrew. Indo-European with its many branches can be very inventive and create rather widely divergent developments. We rightaway give some examples:


1."O R" unchanged in "Orient", from Latin "orior", a passive verb that means " to be lightened", as is the case with the sun when it rises and with the morning of the day.


2 "AUR OR" with doubling and adding an initial A in Latin "aurora".


3. "AUR" by adding an initial A" in Greek "aurion = tomorrow".


4. "AU SH R" by inserting "SH" and adding an opening vowel "A" in Lithuanian "aushra = to-morrow", and


5. "AU SH T; AU S T " by also losing the " R" and substituting it by "T" in Lithuanian "aushta" and Latvian "aust",


6. "U TS R" by inserting "TS" or "S", adapting the "O" into "U" in Old Indian "utsar, usr- = morning", but also


7. "U TS-" by losing the "R" in Old Indian "utsagh, utsasam, comparable to"


8. "U SH-" in Avestan "uahā"


9. "U ST R -" in Old Slavic "za ustra", becoming


10. "U TR- ", in Russian "utro = morning" and "zawtra = to-morrow".


11. "AU ST R-, and "Ō ST R-" in Old Germanic, like in Ostrogoth. One must note that the final "R" in Old High German "ōstar = eastern" may be a newer suffix.


12. "AU ST-", "Ō ST-", "EA ST" in later Germanic, as Norwegian "aust", Dutch "oost" and English "east". The "EA" is a typical English development out of a long "Ō".


13. "AW S-" with initial vowel "A" and consonant-shaping by the "U" in Greek "*awsos" = "aurora", followed by


14. "E' OO -S", "E OO -S" , with the "S" absorbing the function of suffix in the first case, in Greek "oos, eoos morning", with a further


15. "HE OO -S" by adding an initial "H" in Attic Greek.



  • Greek has used its existing root "arg" to given names to shimmery potter-clay and to silver, as shown above. Greek scholars consider their words for gold and copper as loanwords, without being able to define their origin. These words are "χρυσος (khrusos)" and "χαλκος (khalkos)". We tend to suppose that the word "khrusos", gold, has just a common origin with Hebrew, as we find a partner for it in that language : the root "GH R.S" means "to shine, glow" and also "sun". "GH" is the transcription we use for the letter "Gheth", but one might use as well "KH". We have chosen "GH" because the modern Mid-Eastern pronunciation as used by Jews from the Arab countries is "GH", a sound well distinct from more ancient "HH". These pronunciations alternated in the past. Compare entry E 0172 (Hebrew 0455).


  • Proto-Semitic. There is perhaps some confusion as to how the word or root corresponding to the Hebrew root of this entry must have been. This may be caused by the fact that words from other languages meaning " fire " or " to flame " have been taken into consideration . Firelight is certainly a very ancient form of light, and it is the original form of artificial human made light. But it is not the only old light, on the contrary. The most obvious sources of light for early man were the sun or the day and dawn . It is quite obvious to see Semitic words for "light" related to Indo European for the same natural phenomena.


    So we rather opt for that existing hypothesis for Proto-Semitic that says : " * Aleph Waw Resh ": א ו ר, " * 'or- ". Akkadian with the word "uru or urru = light, day" gives us a good support in this.


  • Indo-European. Besides the already mentioned hypothesis for Indo-European, "*ar", there is another one , "*aus-" and there are good reasons for this as well.


    Old Indian for "morning light, dawn" uses two roots, one with "TS" and one with "R". "S" is seen in "utsā-gh, gen. and acc. utsásagh, utsásam". Then there is "usráh = morning-like"; "utsar, usr-" both indicate "aurora, red morning-sky". For Old Indian there are thus "U TS- and U S R-.


    Avestan has "ush- as a root, with the following vowels varying from " A to " Å ". But there is also "usaiti" for "dawning". This means "U SH- and "U S-


    Baltic shows Lithuanian "aūshrà = dawn" and "aūshta = it is dawning", that in Latvian is "àust". This indicates AU SH/S".


    Slavic. Old Church Slavonian says ustra as well as (j)utro for "morning". With the use of the article "za" this led to a couple of Russian words: " у т р о, utro = morning" and " з а в т р а, zawtra = tomorrow". Slavic, before the consonant " S " disppeared, seems to have been "*U S TR-".


    Germanic. Related Germanic words are English "east" and Old English "ēast", German "ost". English "EA" is a development out of the long "Ō" that was already present in Old Saxon and Old High German. But Old Norse "aust-", with Icelandic "austur" indicate that the vowel "O", longer or shorter, may have developed out of an earlier "AU". Modern Norwegian uses both "aust" and "ǿst"". In Gothic this root seems to be unknown, though their Eastern stock in Latin had the Latinized name of "Ostrogothi" with a Germanic "O" as well as "Austrogothi" which is considered an earlier and perhaps still co-existing" Germanic form. Consequently Proto-Germanic probably still had the "R" and the vowel AU" : AU S TR-.


    Greek uses more than one root for "morning". " α υ ρ ι ο ν, aurion = tomorrow". Then " η ω ς , os = aurora, morning, daylight". This word was used also by Homer , but is considered to have been derived from an earlier "*awsos". It has sister words in Attic " ε ω ς , hos " and Aeolic " α υ ω ς, auos". Greek indeed may have had an original "AU S-" for "light of the day" and "morning" . Besides this there is the use of "A R G-" in a diversification for "shining" by reflection instead of by direct light.


    For "Indo-European" the picture is complicated, as shown in the text above. There are always opening vowels, and in the older languages they are "A", "AU", "U". The following consonants vary as well, with "S", "SR", "TS", "ST" and then also with "R", as in "SHR" "SR", "STR" or simply "R". Indo-European may have already used various forms, like "*AUR, *AUS, *AUST", but there is no certainty at all. Things in all probability have anyhow begun with "*O R", following through by "*A R" and then further by "*U S R-" in Eastern languages and by "*AU STR" in some more Western tongues , from which in normal developments many other forms may result, through the adding of the initial "A" and the elimination of the "U" ( first reduced to "W"), the change of "S" into "ST", "TS"; or "SH". etcetera.


  • Gold. The supposed etymology for gold is uncertain. The final dental "D" or "T" is not present in Scandinavian "gull", which is as good as identical with "gul" saying "yellow". The words for "yellow" are believed to indicate a shiny, brillant colour and gold is then the shiny yellow metal. Those words for yellow are "geel" in Dutch and "gelb" in German. We find it hard to believe that a spectacular metal like gold would get just the name "yellow", but we have no alternative to offer.


  • Silver. There seems to be no supposed etymology at all for silver. As often, this leads to the supposition that "silver" is a loanword from an undefined, probably micro-asian language. Somebody, more audacious, says "silver" comes from "şarpu (refined silver)" derived from "şarāpu (to smelt, refine)". The root of this Akkadian word is "SH R P", rather far away from "S L V R". And we are unsure if this "melting" is the primary meaning of the Akkadian root. In Hebrew the roots "S R P" and "TS R P" mean "to burn".


    The German pronunciation of "Silber" is "zilber" and Dutch says "zilver". Thinking of that basic idea that such metals may have a name derived from a root meaning to shine or to glitter, we look at Hebrew " ז י ו (ziv)" " ז ה ר (zahor) and " ז ה ב (zahav)". We find these interesting because"ZIV" means "being bright and shiny", "ZAHOR" means "splendor" and "ZAHAV" is "gold"! The answers are not clear yet, but there may well be a connection here. Hebrew itself has a different word for silver : root "K S P", word כ ס ף (kesseph)" The same root "K S P", or an identical one, means "to desire".





Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: 21/12/2012 at 16.44.35