E 0240 DEAD , DIE

The word " dead " is of Germanic origin .

H 0335 ה ו ד

Concept of root : dying away

Hebrew word


English meanings

ה ו ד

ה ו ד ו

ב ו ד


dow, daw;


to be ill, suffering;

ill, suffering;

to pine away

Related English words


Comparison between European words and Hebrew




English meanings

Similarity in roots


ה ו ד

ו ה ד ו

ב ו ד




to be ill;


to pine away

d . w . ;

d w b




to decay, pine away

t . b .

Middle Dutch



pine away

d . y




pine away

d w


dead; to die

a.o. : worn out, weary;

a.o.: to gradually cease living,; fade away

d . ;

d y



Proto-Semitic *DOB < *D ' O --- *DŌW Indo-European



This entry is related to GD 1041 ( Hebrew 0300). It is useful to make a comparison. The adventures of the various sounds for which the letter "waw" is used, are many. In this entry we can compare this letter in Hebrew, pronounced as a consonant W , with Dutch , where it has developed into "OY".



  • Middle Dutch "doyen" is accompanied by a causative verb "doden", that stands for "to make die, kill". The Middle Dutch version of "dead" was "doo" or "doot". The first one is linked to the verb "doyen", "to pine away, die"; the second one, linked to the verb "doden" has become the modern word "dood" which says "dead" , just as the English word to which it is related.


    This root is also used for the thawing of ice, which confirms that it does not find its origin in a concept of death, but of languishing, pining off, disappearing in suffering. This links it well to the Hebrew root of this entry. Finally it is even used to express the languishing of love, just like in English "dying for love".


  • English "dead" is still used for "weary, worn-out" etcetera. One would be inclined to think of a figurative use, but in reality we see here remainders of the original sense of the root. Death was just a possible or even probable consequence of the happenings under this root.


  • Latin with the word "tabeo" fits, be it not too exactly, into the overall pattern of this entry, though it does not lead to the consequences we find in that other root hat gives the word "mors" = "dead, death", and which in its turn is related to Hebrew "mut". The problem is that Latin "TA-" normally would be seen as corresponding to "TA-" also in Indo-European, and that this is improbable here.


  • Proto-Semitic. Aramaic and Syriac present "ד ו א , dew' = to be unwell" and "ד ו י , dew'= to be miserable". Ugaritic uses this root to say "to be ill", and so do Arabic "dawiya, dā'" and Ethiopian "dawaya". Akkadian has "di'ū = ilness".


    Proto-Semitic is considered to have had four possible roots : "*ד ו י, *D W Y" with a message of " to be ill, sick" and " * "ד י א , "D Y (Aleph)" for " grave disease". And further "*ד ו ב, *D W B" with a message of " to pine away" and " * "ד א ב , D Aleph B" for " to languish, pine away". The various Semitic languages, on which these two suppositions have been based, nearly all have the consonants "D" and " W" and many have a third consonant "Y". The second supposition we mentioned is based on and similar to Akkadian , in this case with an isolated position. This Akkadian word is rather to be seen as a specific local development.


    As to the roots "* "ד ו א, D W Aleph" and then indeed "*ד ו י , D . W . Y" , one notes that they are similar to Hebrew. There we see the third consonant "Y" , pronounced "I" , appear especially in the verbal forms of the past.


    It is very important to compare the three roots "ד א ב, D Aleph B" , and "ד ו ב, D W B " , mentioned in entry GD 1041 ( Hebrew 0300), with "ד ו ה, D W H (accentuated vowel)", found in this 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.


    It must be noted that the development of the message of this root from "sick" into "dead" seems not to be found in the Semitic languages.


  • Proto-Germanic. The concept " to die" in many Germanic languages been derived from an in origin very brief root "*D O". This letter "O" is directly comparable to the Hebrew letter "W", called "waw", This letter indicated related sounds, consonants and vowels, like W, V, F (at the end of a word), U and O. One of its characteristics is its capability of disappearing at the beginning of a word ( about always in Greek) or to change into a vowel "I" as is very frequent in Hebrew. This change from "O" into "I" has occurred also in the verb of this entry. English has become " to die", whereas most languages have maintained a vowel "O".


    It is striking to see how the adventures of this letter "W" or "O" have been: Gothic "*dIWan", Old Norse "dO, dEYa (E to help pronunciation)", Norwegian "dÖYa", Swedish and Danish "dÖ", Middle Dutch "dOYen, dOUWen", Old High German "tOUWen, tEWen (E for pronunciation), Middle High German "tOUWen, tÖUWen, Old Saxon "dOIen" . One remarks that, as is often the case, the "D" changes into a "T" in High German.


    As regards English, the verb "to die" comes from Middle English " dien (N is a suffix)" and earlier "deyen". The verb seems not to have been found in sources of Old English, but the related words "dēad = dead" and "dēað =death" were in use.


    Proto-Germanic probably had "*D OY-".It is important to note that the nouns and adjectives for "death, dead", related to the above mentioned verbs, mostly have a long O or Ö (in Nordic), that is one of the forms of the letter Waw we mentioned already. One notes that in Gothic, Old Norse the vowel in a few cases, but not in all words, has become "AU" (daud- + suffixes, in which the A is for better pronunciation). These nouns have been shaped by adding a final dental, usually a "D" as in Dutch "dood", but in German again a "T", as in "Tot". English as very often has changed from a long O to EA, already in Old English.


    Proto-Germanic probably still had "*D OW-", developing already into a second version "*D OY-", that may have lived together with the first one, especially as both were really still present in Middle Dutch.


  • Indo-European There is a hypothesis "* DH E W- or "* DHWEY- . It must be pointed out that the concept of "to melt, liquify", for which are used some roots that are similar to those used for 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 or a similar one 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 or groups 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 pronounciation like "DH". So we propose "D Ō W-, possibly also "D Ē W-".





Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: 24/12/2012 at 14.56.23