The words "for" and "before" are of Germanic origin .

H 0109 ר ו ב ע

Concept of root : for, before

Hebrew word


English meanings

ר ו ב ע


for, before

Related English words

for , before

Comparison between European words and Hebrew




English meanings

Similarity in roots


ר ו ב ע


for, before

a v(u)r


for, before

for, before





for, before



per; pro, prae

pr; pro, pr

for; before

p . r; p r .



Hebrew *‛AVUR --- *FUR Proto-Germanic < *PŪR", *PRŌ Indo-European



In this case we mentioned the inbetween vowels, placing them between brackets, as the maintaining of comparable vowel-sounds may in a way confirm the similarity of the basic roots. There remains the difference that Hebrew uses an initial vowel that English has in "over", but not in "for". Hebrew uses this vowel in both versions, but has realized the diversification in a different way, by the inserting of an extra letter Waw, ו , pronounced as a long U.



  • Hebrew and Proto-Semitic. Proto-Semitic is considered as having used the same root that is present in Hebrew, "* ע ב ר, Ayin B R ". It is used in Aramaic, Syriac, Arabic and Akkadian. This entry is one of a group of six, all based on the same Proto-Semitic and Hebrew root , that has known a particularly rich development of related meanings, which have their counterparts in various European languages. The six entries are :
     E 0651 over                       (Hebrew 0104, to pass over)
     E 0331 ferry ( Dutch "veer")      (Hebrew 0105, to cross (over)
     E 0345 ford                       (Hebrew 0106, ford)
     E 0939 OE beran (Latin fero)      (Hebrew 0107, to pass, transport )
     E 0629 OE ofer(Du "overkant")     (Hebrew 0108, other side)
     E 0344 for                        (Hebrew 0109, for, before)		
    Perhaps also E 0468 (Hebrew 0110) should be considered part of this group.


  • Proto-Germanic. RE: Meaning "for". As usual, most old and new Germanic languages use "F" as a first consonant. The common quartet of Middle Low German "vor", Middle High German "vr", Middle Dutch "vore, voor" and of course Dutch "voor" use "V" as initial consonant. The final consonant of the root is always "R".


    As vowel in older Germanic languages, various are in use. "U" is present in Old Frankish "fur" , Old High German "furi" and in Old Saxon "fur" besides "for". Middle Dutch with "vur, vure, vuer, vuere, vore, voor" suggests a development from "U" into "O". The version "veur" lives on in modern dialect in Dutch. Middle High German "vr" with the common intermezzo "V", led to German "fr". Old English had "fore", Old Norse "fyr" and Gothic "fora, forra", with the "O" pronounced like the "A" in English "bawl".


    Consequently the probable Proto-Germanic was "*F U R". It is useful to note that an initial "F" in Proto-Germanic may well correspond with an initial "P" in other Indo European languages.


  • Latin and Hebrew. Latin "per" is well known to speakers of most European languages. It is used for many meanings, of which "for" is only one. Others are "through (place)", "over", "along", "during", "by means of", "regarding, "on account of" and further figurative meanings. It has cognates in Latin itself, like "pro = in front of, before, in favour of, in relation with, in exchange for" and "prae = in front (of), forward, before, more then, on account of, with respect to". This complicated Latin development is not unique. Comparable phenomena have taken place in other Indo-European languages, but also in Hebrew we see that our word "‛avur" has more meanings than "for, before", like "on account of, because (of), for the sake of" . Some of these meanings are in Latin expressed by "pro" and "prae".


  • Indo-European. As in the Latin example, also in other cases words or roots that are used to say "for, before" can carry further meanings. And they are used as prefixes, allowing a rich diversification of the languages. We indicate some related words in other groups, that serve the concepts of "for" and "before" or are otherwise clearly linked to these two concepts.


    Hittite "para = forward".


    Tokharian "ana-pær, ene-pre = before, in front of" and "parwe = before (in time)".


    Old Indian "pára = previous, former".


    Avestan "pairi = before (time, place)"


    Greek shows "προ, pro = for, before (place and time)", besides related meanings. There is as well "πριν, prin = before (in time)"


    Celtic as often has abolished the initial labial consonant and shows Old Irish "er, ir, air, ar = for, before". Old Cymric and Cornish " yr, er = for, on account of".


    Albanian per = for, because, over".


    Slavic knows various hypotheses, like "*perdj, prī pro;", and we just quote actual Russian with the prefix "пер , pr", used to indicate "before, over, first " etcetera, together with the word "перед, pered = before (time and place) ". Then there is "при , prī = before" besides other meanings, and that is an important prefix. Also "про , pro = before, over" is frequently used as a prefix.



    Indo-European also for the concepts of this entry, "for" and "before" had the two-consonant combination "* P vowel R ", possibly "*P Ě R", but also "*P Ā R and even ""P Ū R" may have existed already" . A bit for the nice picture we mention the third one in the title-comparison But we see no real possibility to indicate with reasonable exactness the vowels that were used for the various meanings. Diversifications with the use of "A", "O", "U" , "I" and "E" may have existed already. And also the shifting of a vowel resulting in "*P R vowel" as seen in Latin, Greek and Slavic may have originated already.




Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: 22/12/2012 at 9.53.18