E 0510          KNOT

The word "knot" is of Germanic origin .

H 0153            ד נ ע

Concept of root: to fix, tie

Hebrew word


English meanings

ד נ ע


to attach, tie, fix

Related English words


Comparison between European words and Hebrew




English meanings

Similarity in roots


ד נ ע


to tie, fix attach

‛a n d




tie, knot

 n d





k n t



Hebrew *‛ANAD --- *NAD Indo-European



There is a considerable difference between English and Hebrew here. The English and inmdeed Germanic "K" as such at the beginning of the word is hard to explain. There is a question mark here, but, perhaps Latin development sheds some light. The initial Ayin + vowel in Hebrew we tend to consider a confirming prefix, though we have not found as in other cases further corroborating evidence.


The meaning of this Hebrew root is not at all limited to the specific one of " to tie around", as some believe . In Job 31.36 a translation " to bind (upon)" seems more convincing. The text refers to a crown or wreath. And for Proverbs 6.21 there exist various translations, such as "to fix(bind) upon". The text uses the root "Ayin Nun Daleth" either as a litterary alternative for, or to distinguish from, the other root used in that same text . That root is "Qoph Shin Resh" and it stands for "to tie, bind, join, connect" and is especially used for the "to bind around" the arm that is done with the tephillin or phylacteries. It seems probable that our root distinguishes the action from that of "to tie around".



  • Latin has in fact inserted a K-sound into the root of "nodus", shaping the word "necto", meaning "to tie, knot, arrest". Perhaps this is an intensive form , and as it would be odd to make a word "nedto", people have made a quite new word, inserting a "K", in Latin "C" with the same sound.


  • Germanic has also a K more than in nodus, maintaining even the same vowel "O" in the word. It is not clear why, but the message of the words is the same. Many times we do not succeed in analysing why certain letters/sounds were added.


  • Other words based on this root, mostly with prefixes, are many. In English for example : "annex" "connect", "obnoxious". And Italian "annodare" looks very much like Hebrew , but in reality the "an-" comes from a pefix "ad-".


  • Proto-Germanic. The various Germanic languages all have an initial K-sound in "KN", sometimes spelled "CN". The vowel is mostly an "O", but in a few cases we see "U" , as in Norwegian "knute", from Old Norse "knut-r". Old English has "cnotta" with a verb "cnytta". Middle Dutch "cnodde" with a verb "cnutten". Middle High German had both "knote" and "knode" after Old High German "knodo" and leading to German "Knoten".


    As shown, the third consonant, a dental , shows a development from "D" towards "T". Some scholars see these "T" 's as expressing a more intensive action or result. This may be the case in some words like Middle Low German "knütten = "to knit" and Old English "cnyttan = to knit", that indicate a very iterative action, and iterative and intensive sometimes overlap in their expression. But it is more probable that the old "D" just changed into "T" as a general development. This may have been taking place during Proto-Germanic. So we opt for "*KN O D" > "*KN O T-". There is the possibility that Proto-Germanic instead of "O" had "U", which would give "*KN U D-" > *KN U T-".


    Many Germanic languages have more words with different roots for "to tie, bind". One is of course seen in English "to bind". The three consonant combination "B N D" is Old Indian, Proto-Germanic, Baltic and Celtic and was as such probably used in Indo-European. A common origin with "knot" would mean the use of a prefix "B" and we have no indication for that.


    The other one is considered related to Latin "nodus", but it only has a comparable meaning and uses a quite different root. We see no common origin with "knot" nor "bind". It is seen in Old English "noste, nostle = band" and Old Saxon "nestila = band, hair ribbon". The element "nest" is the most common one, also seen in Danish "neste = to fasten" and Middle Dutch " nestel(e) = lace".


  • Proto-Semitic We see here only a Hebrew root with this meaning, and evidence to hypothesize a Proto-Semitic root lacks. With a similar root we find in Syriac " to hear, answer", but this is related to another Hebrew verb and root, " 'anà = to answer ". It is interesting to see that in that case in Syriac a new third consonant "D" is found as added to an original two consonant root " Ayin N ". There is also the Arabic word " ' anada = he turned aside", that gives no support .


  • Indo-European.


    Old Indian uses "nad" in several verbal forms , but from some it disappeared: "náhyati, ptc naddhhá- , to bind, tie" and the noun in plural "nád-bhyas = bonds, ties"


    Celtic, with a hypothesis of "*nadm-" has in Old Irish lost the " D " in some words, but maintained it in the Nouns "naidm = the binding, contract" and "fornaidm = bond, tie".



    Indo-European, on the basis of the available information, probably had "*N A D-", with the vowel " Ō " in Latin and Germanic seen as a later development.





Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: 01/10/2012 at 15.30.28