E 0061       AVIATION, UP

The word "aviation" is, via modern French,  of Latin origin.

The word " up " is of Germanic origin.

The word " hyper " is of Greek origin .

H 0210             ף ו ע

Concept of root : to fly up

Hebrew word


English meanings

ף ו ע


to fly, bird

Related English words

aviation , up, hyper

Comparison between European words and Hebrew




English meanings

Similarity in roots


ף ו ע


to fly, flee; bird, birds ;

to go up high

‛o ph


ύψι, *ύπ-

hüpsi, hüp-

(up) high

u p





a v





aviation ;



a v . ;

u p ;

hy  p (r)



Proto-Semitic *‛OPH < *OP- --- *AV- Indo-European



Flying has been , right from the beginning, seen as the thing done by birds. It is only natural that one root in single languages or groups of these is used to indicate both concepts, that of the flying being ( bird ) and its characteristic action ( flying ).


This can be seen in German with the words "Vogel ( bird )" and "fliegen (to fly )" . Interesting is that there has been a metathesis between these two words: the noun has "V G L " and the verb has "F L G". Comparable situations are seen in the sister languages.


Also Old English carried on like this with the substantive " fugol " and the verb " fleōgan " and modern English has " fowl " and " to fly ". But the normal term for " a " fowl " is " bird ", an old word as well, but without any known origin . To the idea of the bird and what it does in the air, easily has been added that of getting away fast, in English " to flee , fly ". In German " flüchten ", an intensive form of the verb "fliegen ".


The same can be seen in Hebrew with the root of this entry, that expresses " bird, fowl " " to fly in the air " and " to flee ". Also an extended form is used, in which the "PH" has been doubled, " ע ו פ ף , ophèph ", with the same meaning though. In modern language there are figurative meanings, but for the derivative meaning of " to flee " this root is less used.


  • English "bird " comes from Anglo Saxon "brid, bridd", that especially meant " young fowl ". Also here one sees a metathesis, this time between the R and the vowel, a very common phenomenon. Perhaps the idea of " young bird " even lives on in the way the word " bird " is sometimes used, like to indicate a young girl. The root itself is found in other common English words : " to breed " and " to brood", related to living habits of birds.


  • German. For German and Dutch readers it has to be remarked that the sisterwords of English " to brood", that are German "brüten " and Dutch "broeden, bruden " have nothing to do with the verbs "brühen" and "broeien , bruyen" that have a message of " developing heat". In popular language the two things are mixed up, probably because " brooding" means bringing warmth to eggs, but that is not in line with their origin. Several scholars have represented the opinion that these words in Dutch were one and the same, with just a difference in pronunciation .


  • Proto-Germanic. A Proto-Germanic "*ūfa-z" or "*ūfēn" is an existing hypothesis for "owl". See our entry E 0653 (Hebrew 0019), in which there is a hypothesis of a Proto-Germanic "*UV-". This is a development out of "*W" or "*U" and should not be seen as related to "oph" of this entry.


  • Greek "hüpsi" has been inserted into this entry, because it may well be related, though there is no certainty about this. Its basic meaning is " up high " , used among other things to tell where Zeus finds himself. The basis is "hüp ", also found in the prepositions "ύπερ , hüper" and "ύπο , hüpo" and that stand for respectively " above" and " under".


    It should be recalled that in very old civilizations relative directions of movements or relative positions were not always specified. A root could be used to say " to move ( either coming or going ) ". And in the case of this entry Greek "hüp – " must have meant : "on different altitude, height". Later in development the necessity of specifying directions and positions in one word became more felt .


  • Proto-Semitic. Various Semitic languages are seen as using the same root " *Ayin Waw, P ", applied in Hebrew. It is found also in Aramaic and Syriac "ע ו פ א ‛oph'a = bird", Arabic "āfa = he hovered", Ethiopian "‛of = bird" , Tigre and Tigrai . But it must be noted that some languages do not have the Waw, like Ugaritic and Phoenician, whereas others lack the Ayin, like Amharic and Harari . The definition and timing of the changes within the Semitic group are difficult to establish. Proto-Semitic probably already had "*ע ו ף".


    The pronunciation of the consonant " P " as " PH ", seen in the North West with Hebrew and Aramaic, but also in Ethiopian and Arabic, in this case may have begun in Proto-Semitic, that anyhow in all probability originally had a " P ".


  • Indo-European. Old Indian in the short words "ví-gh, vé-g; váy-agh = bird; birds" as well as in "vāyasá- = large bird", and "vevīyate = to flutter" has no initial vowel like Latin and Hebrew. The same goes for Avestan "vī-sh; vay-am = bird; birds (gen)". They may be unrelated to Latin "avis".


    Armenian "hav = bird" instead, with an added initial "H" uses the same root as Latin: "H A V" against "A V-". In Italic we find Umbrian "avif, avef" with the same meaning and basic root as Latin.


    Celtic is seen as having had "*hawi" = bird" on the basis of a.o. Cymric "hwyad = duck", which is a bit less solid. It may be right anyhow. The support is limited but real and Indo-European may have known a form "A V-" for "bird, fowl".




Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: 22/01/2013 at 18.17.16