E 0086          BEECH

The word " beech " is of Germanic origin .

H 0291            ה צ י ק ו ב

Concept of root : deciduous tree

Hebrew word


English meanings

ה צ י ק ו ב



Related English words

beech , Old English : boc

Comparison between European words and Hebrew




English meanings

Similarity in roots


ה צ י ק ו ב



b . q





ph g





f g





b . z

Middle Dutch

boeke, boec




b . k

Old English



b . c



Hebrew *BUQ-ITSA --- *BUK Indo-European



The word "buqitsa" is modern Hebrew, but of Semitic origin. It is related to Arabic "buqitsa", and it may even have been loaned .


We deem it possible that the same root, used in the North for the beech, a tree that in old Israel probably did not exist, in the South was used for another but not all too dissimilar kind of deciduous tree. This is not only our view, but it is generally accepted that a name for a tree may be used for a different one in a country where the first one is not found. This of course confirms the similarity in language. Comparable name givings were done when the Europeans entered North America.


Interesting is that in Kurdish the word "buz" is the name of a kind of elmtree!


A bit more less regular than for the elm seems to be a comparable name also for an oak, as seen in Greek "φηγος = phègos" . The oak is rather characteristic in its differences from other trees. Another point is that this Hebrew name for the elmtree has a long suffix "itsa" that sounds more Greek than Hebrew. But the root "BUQ" hardly can have been loaned from Greek that has the different softer version with PH and G.


Regarding Greek one notes that a "beech" is called " οξυα = oxü" and an "elm" a "πτελεα = ptelea


As to the Arab word, some people suppose this word has been loaned from Slavic, specifically Serbian , that has "bukvica" as a diminutive of "bukva" , meaning "beech " . It is related to Russian "buk" and of course English " beech". Bu it is hard to understand why Arabic would loan the wrong word for the tree it wants to define ! And that at an enormous geographical distance from people with whom there was no contact or hardly any at all.



  • Proto-Semitic. We have no information from other Semitic languages besides Arabic on which to base a hypothesis.


  • Proto-Germanic. For "beech" Old Norse had "beyki", but Norwegian "bøk". Middle Dutch "boec, boeke, bōke, boc", with "boek" for "beech-nut". Old English had "bōc" and also "bece". Old High German was "buohha", but Old Saxon "bōka" with a long vowel. Middle Dutch "buken" or later "buyken" as a verb indicates the treatment with beech-lye, that in Middle High German was "buchen" or "biuchen" . The tree probably had in Proto-Germanic "*B Ō K", though a long vowel "U" is possible: "*B Ū K" .


  • Indo-European. It has been tried to connect the root of the names for "beech" to that of verbs meaning "to eat", like Old Indian "bakh-śati" and Greek "phagein", supposing that "beech" would mean "tree that gives eatable fruits". Well, beech-nuts can be eaten and taste very good, but the beech cannot compete at all with an endless number of trees that give more and better nutrient fruits and nuts.


    Slavic. Russian has "б у к , buk = beech". The same word is found in more Slavic languages. A hypothesis for Slavic is "*BH U G-", perhaps inspired by the fact that an elder-tree in Russian is a "б у ж , buzj". And the Latin name for that tree is "sambucus", of which the etymology is very uncertain and a great source of debate. One further remarks that an "elm" in Russian is a "в я з , wyaz". Slavic for the beech may simply have had "*B U K-".


    Greek in Doric has "φαγος = phagos, and the origin is considered to have been "*PH Ā G-


    Latin in all composed words shows the same root.


    There is no clear indication if the initial "F" has been developed out of "P" or "B". The Greek spelling with a "PHI" does not mean much in this case. Seen the fact that other Indo-European groups use a "B" or aspired "BH", the probability is that there was an earlier "B" also preceding Latin and Greek " F ".


    Indo-European on the basis of this information may have had "B Ā K- or a more probable "*B Ū K" . It is hard to define if any of the two preceded the other and was at the origin.






Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: 10/10/2012 at 17.29.49