E 0248          DEER

The word " deer " is of Germanic origin .

H 0330          ר ר ד , ר י ר ד ה

Concept of root : living free

Hebrew word


English meanings

ר ר ד , ר י ר ד ה

hidrir ; darar

to free; set free

Related English words


Comparison between European words and Hebrew




English meanings

Similarity in roots


ר י ר ד ה
ר ר ד

hidrir; darar

to free;

set free

d . r . r <

d . r

Old Norse



free, wild animal, roe, deer

d . r

Old English


free animal; deer, reindeer;

d . r




d . r





d . r





d . r



Proto-Semitic *DAR, *DIRRÈR --- *DĪR Proto-Germanic < Indo-European *DĪR



The Hebrew word "hidrir" is the causative of a verb "*darar" that in modern language is no more used. It would have had its intensive form in " "dirrèr*". This verb " dirrèr*" sounds very near the word "deer" or as in Dutch "dier" for a being living in so-called freedom. Darar as such should be based on an earlier root " * D R": One may point out that the Latin word for " animal ", which has become the English one as well, is linked to "animus" or "spirit, soul" and that this in turn is related to "anima" that stands a.o. for "breath", but also for the principle of life that is found in animals and human beings. This Latin development is important, if we see that the basic meaning of "animus" is "wind, flow of air", identical to Greek "ανεμος , anemos", but that Greek has remained at that orginal message only.


In this entry we find one of many cases in which a similarity exists between Semitic and Germanic, without indication of cognates in other Indo-European groups.



  • Proto-Semitic. There is not much evidence . Arabic "darra means "i ran swiftly" and this is characteristic for the animal we call "deer" and in general many free animals do run fast. Then there is Akkadian "durāru = freedom, liberation". Proto-Semitic may have used already this root "*ד ר ר, D R R". In the comparison the intensive form is presented.


  • Dutch "dier" has been analysed as having the original meaning of "free breathing being". This sounds a bit romantic, especially if one thinks about the life of frequent fear and terror animals have to live in "freedom", but what counts is the etymology.


  • English and Old Norse. Deer perhaps indicated in the perception of the ancient English the free living animal by excellence, so that it has succeeded in monopolizing this title. Old English "deor" still carried the meaning of "wild, free animal", but in some instances as by Ælfric, a scholar before 1000 e.v., the word indicates in fact already also "deer", including "reindeer". This finds further confirmation in Old Norse "dür" that means " wild, free animal" and was as well especially used to indicate a roe or deer.


    "Deor" as an adjective refers to characteristics of free animals : "bold, brave, ferocious".


  • Proto-Germanic. There is a theory, generally accepted, that also "deer" and its sisters really mean "breathing being". Basis for this is that an animal in Gothic was called "dius" and that Old-Slavic had "duša" for "breath". Also the Baltic tongues have words related to Old Slavic here. Hard to say no to all this, but to say yes is even more difficult. In fact a comparison is then made with Latin, "anima" and "animal", that has given English "animal". But Latin "animal" does not say "animal", but "living being", including "human being". The English meaning is caused by a later limitation. We prefer to stick to the idea of "freedom", without necessarily a breathing-root . And this we find confirmed in Hebrew.


    The initial consonant in older and newer Germanic tongues is a "D", with the usual exception of German and its predecessors that changed over to "T", as in Old High German "tior". The final consonant is "R", with the already mentioned exception of Gothic "dius" that is unexplained. The vowel is either " Ī", a combination of another vowel with " I ", or as in English "deer" a different spelling with the same pronunciation. Proto-Germanic probably had "D Ī R-"


  • Indo-European As often is the case, there seems to be not much information about possible cognates in other branches of Indo-European, but there are some interesting words in :


    An existing hypothesis is "*dheusóm", based on the idea of "breathing creature". This is then compared to Latin "animal". The "breathing" message would find some reminiscence is Balto-Slavic, with Old Slavic "duchŭ" and "duša" for "breath". The basis is narrow. We rather see the distinction versus humans in the characteristics of free moving in nature as the basis for "deer".


    Greek. "θηρ, thèr = animal ", and "θηρα, thèra = hunt". This allows an extension of the comparison to Indo-European, that may have had "*D Ē R" or possibly "*D Ī R".





Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: 14/12/2012 at 10.44.16