E 0449A          HILL

The word " hill " is of Germanic origin

H 0164            ע פ ל

Concept of root : hill

Hebrew word


English meanings

ע פ ל



Related English words


Comparison between European words and Hebrew




English meanings

Similarity in roots


ע פ ל



‛o p . l





a . p

Old English



h (y ) l

Middle Dutch



h (o)v . l



Hebrew *‛OP(H)EL --- *HOBEL Proto-Germanic



This clear similarity can be seen if we consider two facts. The first is that often the Hebrew Ayin corresponds with a Germanic H . The second is that the diphthonguing of an initial vowel, either O or A , in Greek , may correspond with the Hebrew reinforcement through the adding of an initial Ayin . Three different ways to emphasize the pronunciation of an initial vowel in respectively Greek, Germanic and Hebrew .


The Middle Dutch word of this entry , hovel, is also found in Middle Low German, but as is known Low German and Dutch were really one language untill political developments threw them apart and even led to the decisive downturn of Low German in modern times.


  • Greek. In this particular similarity one sees once more the Greek diphtong "ai" corresponding with the Hebrew Ayin + vowel, here an O. There remains a difference, as Greek does not have the third consonant L that is found in Hebrew . With that there also remains a question mark, as we have no clear indication that the Hebrew root without that third consonant would already lead to a comparable meaning. The Greek word, used by Homer, may be of even much older origin.


  • English. The word " hill " might have developed out of one like " hovel" or "howel" , but there seems to be no ready evidence available for this . Old English already had " hyll ".


  • German. German has the word "Hügel = hill". This is considered a diminutive of another word meaning "hill" , that in Old High German was "houg", a different root altogether, related probably to English "high".


  • Proto-Germanic. One can find various Germanic words that mean "hump, swelling", and show some similarity with words for "hill". A clear example is Old English "hofer, hofr, hofor". And in Middle Dutch, a language that often used different spellings , on account of variations in pronunciation, we see the group "hovel, hoevel, hevel, huevel" carrying the meanings of 1."hill" and 2. "bump, lump, hump, outgrowth".


    This is interesting also if we see that the Hebrew root "Ayin Pe Lamed " is considered to have an original meaning of "to swell" and is used in words that indicate some physical swellings. It is to be noted that with the meaning "hump, swelling" we see more words with a consonant "R" instead of "L", as Old Saxon "hovar-", Old High German "hovar" and Middle High German and early New High German "hofer". Middle Dutch had "hover" besides "hovel" for "bump" etcetera.


    For "hill" we see older words in Old Saxon and Old Franconian "huvil", Old High German hubil, Middle High German "hübel, hubel" and German dialect "Hübel". Proto-Germanic probably had the form "*HO B e L-".


  • Proto-Semitic. We have no direct information from other Semitic languages about the meaning "hill", but there is a supposition that the meaning "hill" has been derived from one of "to swell". A hill sometimes can be seen as a "swelling" in the terrain. In Germanic, as shown in the previous Note, the two concepts are served by the same root. Then there is Hebrew "ע פ ל, upall = was lifted up". Arab "‛afal" indicates an internal physical swelling. There presumably was in Proto-Semitic a root "*ע פ ל, Ayin . P . L", that stood at the origin of the Hebrew word "ophel" of this entry.


    The change from middle consonant " P " into " PH " in this case it may have occurred already in Proto-Semitic, as seen the mrntioned Arabic word. Thisremains uncertain..


  • Indo-European. We have very limited information from other languages that would allow us to make a hypothesis. The Greek word "aipos", also "aipüs", means " hill, height", but also of considerable altitude, as it is even used for the Olympus mountain. And also for fortified towns on high rocky heights. This may have an older origin from the times before the Indo-European and Semitic languages drifted apart.





Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: 22/01/2013 at 15.43.50