The word " chlamys " is a loanword from Greek

H 0363 ם ו ל ג , ם ל ג

Concept of root : mantle for riders

Hebrew word


English meanings

ם ו ל ,

ג ם ל ג



to wrap around;

to wrappings, mantle

Related English words


Comparison between European words and Hebrew




English meanings

Similarity in roots


ם ל ג


ם ו ל ג

galam ;


to wrap around;

wrappings, mantle

g . l . m





kh l . m





ch l . m



Proto-Semitic *GALŪM --- *KHLAM-ÜS Greek



The object in question is a short mantle, worn by riders on horse back. Apparently its design was thus that it did not hinder the free movements of the rider. One tends to ask if this word could not have been a loanword between the two groups of languages. As we have the verb "galam" = " to wrap around" in Biblical Hebrew, it cannot have been lent from Greek. Besides the contacts with the Greeks were of a much later date than that of the finding places in the Bible. So unless the codifyers of the Bible have introduced a new foreign word, something that seems too improbable also for moral reasons, common origin stands out.


Remains the question if the Greeks have loaned a Semitic word. Greek scholars tell that this "khlamus" was a mantle for important people, like generals, lords and kings. Rarely it was worn by anybody of lower rank. And they point at other words in Greek, that indicate mantles of different kinds. Those words begin with "khlan-" and they are considered to be of the same root.


The conclusion can only be that both had a common origin in a preceding language.


  • German has a word " Klamotten" that means " clothes" . This would refer especially to old clothes, in bad state, though today it is generally used for "clothes" in popular language. According to the explanations that are given about its etymology, it would have nothing to do with this entry.


    In reality there are no good explanations at all and the origin of "Klamotten" is simply unknown. It is said to come from some unspecified underworld slang, having developed its meaning from " broken wall " or " tile " into " old clothes" . In fact in German the singular form " Klamotte " stands for a broken tile or a broken piece of wall, but probably this has nothing to do with clothes. Rather it is related to another word in German : "Schamott". This is a type of earthenware, basically of refractory quality, that is very fragile though . Oddly, also this word "Schamott" has no known etymology. Its French-like sound induced people to search for its origin in French or Italian. They then say that the search was in vain, but French uses the word " chamotte ", not specifically for refractory earthenware, but for " baked clay".


  • Hebrew. The origin of the abovementioned word "galom" for "wrappings, mantle, cloak" is sometimes seen in a Persian word "kilim" . The original word in Persian seems to have been "gilim", which would bring it still a bit nearer to our Hebrew root "G.L.M" . But in reality "gilim" and English "kilim" refer to a flat-weaving technique for carpets . They have nothing to do with wrappings or cloaks . True, it is said that Kurdish salesmen use carpets for their bundling, but that is not sufficient to make the people from the Bible choose the word for a weaving-technique in order to express the concept of "to envelop, wrap".


  • Proto-Semitic. This Hebrew root is found as well in Aramaic , but that is insufficient information for a solid hypothesis. It is interesting to note that a similar but perhaps independent root " G L M " with the meaning of " shapeless mass" has given the legendary word " ג ל מ, Golem " in medieval Hebrew. If this is the same root, the sense would be that of the spirit, clad in a wrapping with little shape. In the sense of "shapeless mass" the root is found in Aramaic "ג ו ל מ א , gulm' " and Syriac "ג ל מ א , galm' ".


    In Jewish Aramaic and in Post Biblical Hebrew for "mantle, cloack" there is "ג י ל מ א , gilm' ". The vowel " I " should be seen as a variation or as a natural development out of an earlier " O ". Proto-Semitic probably used this root already : " *ג ל מ, G . L. M ".


  • Indo-European. The uncertainty about the origin of German "Klamotten" and the absence of information from other groups of languages oblige us to limit our comparison for now to Greek and Semitic.





Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: 20/10/2012 at 15.22.14