E 0636          OPAQUE

The words "opaque" and "obscurity" are of Latin origin

H 0211             ף ו ע                    

Concept of root :  darkness

 Hebrew word


English meanings

 ף ו ע


 to be(come) dark

Related English words

 opaque, obscurity

Comparison between European words and Hebrew




English meanings

Similarity in roots


ף ו ע


 to be(come) dark

 ‛ o p





o p (c)




o p (q)



Proto-Semitic *OP --- *OP- Indo-European




This entry E 0636 is strictly related to numbers E 0634 (Hebrew 0049) and E 0635 (Hebrew 0163) . The similarity regards the same Latin word "opacus" as the other two. As such it is rather clear and there can be little doubt about the common origin.


For "opacus" no plausible etymology has been found or established. There are Indo European words that look partially alike, but their meanings are far away from darkness or shadow.


  • Proto-Semitic. We refer to our notes in entries E 0634 (Hebrew 0049) and E 0635 (Hebrew 0163). In all probability the Hebrew root of this entry is the oldest one and with that used in Proto-Semitic: "ע ו ף *Ayin W.P ".


    The pronunciation with final " PH ", mostly has developed in North West Semitic, and Proto-Semitic may well have had just " OP- ".


  • Latin gives a less clear picture . It has been tried to link the word "opacus" to a number of words in other Indo European languages that also have that K-sound. The reasoning is then that "turned away from the sun" would have ben used to say "shadow, darkness". In reality those words, such as Old Indian "apakah = laying far, off, coming from the far side " have nothing to do with shade or darkness.


    Not much nearer is the verb "operire", that has an R instead of a K, shares the first part "op- " with opacus and says " to cover, hide ". This meaning is not the same as "darkness" or "shadow", though these may be the consequence of the covering or hiding action. The two different final consonants are then a reasonable means of diversification. But this comparison may be too imaginative.


    Regretfully one has to say that there is no established or even likely etymology for this important Latin word "opacus". But on general principles one may conclude that "-acus" is a suffix that consists of two elements, the "-ac-" for the adjective and the "-us" for "masculine, singular". That leaves a Latin message for Indo-European as "*O P-" with the message of "shadow, darkness".





Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: 22/01/2013 at 17.53.44