E 0268          DRIVE

The word " drive " is of Germanic origin .

0324            ב ר ד

Concept of root : driving cattle

Hebrew word


English meanings

ב ר * ד


goading, spurring

Related English words


Comparison between European words and Hebrew




English meanings

Similarity in roots


ב ר * ד


goading, spurring cattle

d . r . v



drive cattle

d r . v



Proto-Semitic *DARAB --- *DRĪB-AN Proto-Germanic



A nice clean similarity . This is one of the many cases in which similarity is found between Semitic and Germanic without indications for cognates in other Indo-European groups. Other Germanic languages have words with the same root as English "to drive". Clearly , this has acquired new meanings with the development in society, where today very few people are daily occupied with driving cattle. They drive cars , and some spur those too much .


From the root of this entry have been derived the words " "ד ר ך ן, darwan" and "ד ר ך ו ן, darwon" , both meaning "goad, prick, spur". In modern Hebrew this has become a four consonant root used for a verb "dirbčn = to goad, spur, egg on". The verb itself carries also the meaning of " to be accustomed, trained" , that some see as the basis out of which "to goad" has been derived. But we see rather that "accustoming" of cattle in practice is the result of the action of "egging on, driving, goading". So the "accustoming" will have developed out of that of " to goad, spur", changing from an active to a more passive side of the actions.


  • Proto-Semitic. There is not much further information. Arabic has "daraba, dariba = was accustomed, trained" and "darraba = he accustomed, trained". It is possible that Proto-Semitic used this root "* ד ר ך , D R B" . The final " B " must have maintained its pronunciation in Proto-Semitic. The vowels remain uncertain and may have been " A . A ", but also " A . E " or other.


  • Proto-Germanic. The existing hypothesis is "*D R Ī BHAN ". The consonant " B " may be and have been pronounced as "BH" by individuals or groups, but the essential sound remains " B ", also in the past. So we amend into "*D R Ī B-AN" that is supported by the evidence from Germanic languages. Old Saxon had "driban", Old High German "triban", Old Norse "drifa", Old English "drifan", Old Frisian "driva", Gothic "dreiban " and Middle Dutch "driven".


  • Indo-European. There is a hypothesis of "*dhreibh", that in our view should have been "*dreib", but for which there is a basis only in Germanic. Proposed cognates as Lithuanian "drimbù = to drip slowly" or Greek "thripos = woodworm ( the one that pushes on?)" are semantically off. The comparison remains between Semitic and Germanic, as information from other Indo-European groups lacks.





Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: 23/01/2013 at 17.18.19