E 0005          ACUTE

The word "acute" is of Latin origin

H 0170            ץ ק ע

Concept of root : sting

Hebrew word


English meanings

ץ ק ע


to prick, sting

Related English words

acute from Latin  

Comparison between European words and Hebrew




English meanings

Similarity in roots


ץ ק ע

‛aqats ;



to prick, sting ;


‛(a) q ts



αγκαθη; ακανθα







 a k

 a k th




sharp, pointed

 a k . t




a k . t



Proto-Semitic *‛AQAS --- *Ā K- Indo-European



The differences between these words for sharp pointed objects in the various tongues is not necessarily decisive. S, TS , T and TH often interchange as seen here .



  • Greek shows here how a root can be used both in an original and in a nasalized form. "Akis" for needle has a straight K-sound, but "ankathè" for thorn has been nasalized into NG. And so has "akantha" with a different position for the "N"-sound. The basic form for "sharpness" seems to be in Greek the two letter combination "A K". In order to explain other kinds of sharpness other consonants are added, for example in "akro-" that is found in many words to indicate sharp ends, as any visitor of Greek islands can testify. The point of a spear is an "akoka". And our "thorn" has received a "TH". Thus for thorn we may quote, before nasalization took place : "*A K TH-.


    Greek also has the word "οξυς, oxüs = sharp", in many litteral and figurative senses. It is found in English "oxygen". Greek scholars see "oxús" as derived from an original root "AK-". which puts it in one basket with the words of this entry.


  • Latin for "sharp" has the same basic two letter combination as Greek "A K", written "A C". "Acus" = "needle". There are words like "aculeus" and "acumen", or "acidus". Then the "R" as second consonant is frequently used also in Latin, as in the adjective "acer" = "sharp, pointed". But a "thorn" is named with a different root, as "spina". Remains just the basic "A K- " for "sharp".


    Latin also has a word "catus = sharp-witted, shrewd". This is sometimes seen as a figurative meaning of an original literal meaning "sharp"; but that does not seem right, also because there is no evidence of such a literal sense. Instead there is the verb "acuo, acuere = to sharpen" of which "acutus" is like a participium. And "acus = needle".


  • Proto-Semitic The same root is found in Aramaic " ע ק ץ Ayin Q TS, ‛aqats = it pricked, stung" and a related " *ע ק ס , Ayin Q S" is seen in Syriac ‛aqqis = it stung". Ethiopian has "et‛eqes = he was stung". This is an indication for a Proto-Semitic root similar to Hebrew: " *ע ק ץ Ayin Q TS ". But even more probable is that the " TS " has developed out of an earlier " S ", as seen in Ethiopian and Syriac. In modern Italian one frequently encounters such a development. The conclusion would be an original " *ע ק ס Ayin Q S . "


    Indo-European .


    Balto-Slavic has a hypothesis of "*aksti" for "sharp point". There is support for this in Lithuanian "akstìs = spit" and Russian "ость ;, ostj = point" as well as "острыь, ostrŭj = sharp, acute". One remarks that Russian followed here the so-called "satem-centum" rule, but Lithuanian did not.


    Old Indian offers words without initial vowel : "śātagh = sharp", "śitágh = sharpened" and "śiśāti = sharpens". The consonant "Ś" is a development out of "K". The lack of the initial consonant brings it nearer to the abovementioned Latin word "catus", but Old Indian has the literal meaning of "sharp".


    Indo-European may have had a form "*Ā K- for "sharp".





Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: 22/12/2012 at 16.35.08