GD 1041          DOF

H 0300            ב א ד

Concept of root : downheartedness

Hebrew word


English meanings

ב א ד


to be sad, discouraged;

to pine away

Related English words

to die, dead

Comparison between European words and Hebrew




English meanings

Similarity in roots


ב א ד


to be sad, discour-

aged; to pine away

d . v




sad, low spirited

d . f



Proto-Semitic *DA 'AB, *DOB < *D'O --- *DOW- Indo-European



In modern Hebrew this root has concentrated on the concept of "sadness" , whereas Dutch indicates more despair and low spirit in general . The same word " dof " also is used literally as a contrast to " shiny " in many ways.


The similarity shows even clearer if we compare this Dutch adjective with the "adjective", a nominal form of the verb, in Hebrew : " ד ו א ב, do’ev" .



  • Hebrew. Hebrew shows a sister root, " ד ו ב, D W B ", also carrying the meaning of " to pine away". It is mentioned in entry E 0240 ( Hebrew 0335). It is important to see that the meaning of " to pine away" in our Hebrew 0300 comes nearer to those of the Indo European words of that entry .


  • Proto-Semitic. Proto-Semitic is seen as using already the same root we find in Hebrew "* ד א ב, D Aleph B" . This root is also present in Arabic, but with a different be it yet possibly related meaning : "da'abu = he toiled".


    It is very important to compare the three roots "ד א ב, D Aleph B", "ד ו ב, D W B " and "ד ו ה, D W H ( = accentuated vowel)", found in entry E 0240 ( Hebrew 0335). The comparison shows that in Proto-Semitic there probably has been an original root "*ד ו א, D W Aleph , D ' O" for this group.


    The last couple of roots can be considered related to English " to die" and "dead". See the following Note on Proto-Germanic.


  • Proto-Germanic. The words for "dead" and "to die" , with the older wider message that included "to pine away", began with a consonant "D", with the exception of High German, that changed over to a "T" in the Old High German verb "touwen". This remained in Middle High German but went out of use in modern German, that uses "sterben". The noun dead became in Old and Middle High German "tot" and in modern German "Tod".


    Old Saxon had "dōian; dōth, dōd", Middle Dutch "doyen, douwen; doot". The Nordic languages changed the vowel into "Ǿ", but Old Norse in the noun for "dead" changed the vowel from "O" into "U" and added "A" to make a diphthong: "dauðr ( the final "R" is a typical suffix for many nouns). But the verb underwent a different change, becoming "deya", while maintaining the vowel "O" in several verbal forms. English "to die" is considered as being based on the Old Norse verb.The vowel in the noun "dead", already seen as deað in Old English is a quite normal development out of ""Ō".


    Gothic changed from "Ō" to "Ī" in a hypothetical verb "*diwan", that is then considered by some also as Proto-Germanic. The noun in Gothic, as in Old Norse, became a diphthong in "dauthus".


    Proto-Germanic in all probability had "*D Ō W-" and a natural successor "*D Ō Y- for the verb and "*D Ō T-" for the noun.


  • Indo-European It is useful to refer to the Note in entry E 0240 (Hebrew 0335) : There is a hypothesis "*DH E W- or "*DHWEY-. It must be pointed out that the concept of "to melt, liquify", for which some roots are similar to those of the concept of "to pine away, die" is rather far off in meaning and should better be left out of our considerations.


    As seen in the Note on Latin, the "deadly result" of pining away, in that language is not expressed by the verb "tabeo", though it also says "to be emaciated, decayed". Then it is interesting to see that Latin used an inceptive version "tabesco, tabui, tabescere" to express "to pine away, perish, pass away".



    Celtic, perhaps in a limited way, has followed the same way as Germanic, when Cymric has "taw = death" and Old Irish uses "dīth" for "deterioration, end, death". Further the root is used for "to melt, liquify", as also in Cymric "tawdd, toddi" and Breton teuzi. It is possible that the words meaning "to melt, liquify" have a root similar, but not with identical origin, to that of the message "to pine away, to die", though the verbs are identical in for example Middle Dutch "doyen", that means "to thaw" as well.

     Armenian has the noun di with the genitive diog for "corpse". The "I" may have developed out of "O".


    For Indo-European we remark that the initial "DH" is very uncertain. It is used in many words in Old Indian, but that should be considered a specific development out of an original "D". "DH" is also a way of pronouncing "D" that individuals may show.


    Indo-European may well have used the vowel "Ō", perhaps besides a version as indicated above. The initial consonant should be a "D", not a specific pronunciation like "DH". So we propose "D Ō W-, possibly also "D Ē W-".






Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: 13/10/2012 at 12.55.41