E 0802 (TO) SHEAR

The verb " to shear " is of Germanic origin .

H 0371 ע ר ג

Concept of root : to shear

Hebrew word


English meanings

ע ר ג


to shear

Related English words

shear . Old English: scieran

Comparison between European words and Hebrew




English meanings

Similarity in roots


ע ר ג


to shear, shave

g . r ‛.




to cut, shave

k . r


to shear

to shear

sh . r




to shave, shear

sgh . r

Old Norse



to shave, cut

sk . r



Proto-Semitic *GAR ‛À, *GER ‛À --- *KER- > *SKER- Indo-European



This entry is to be seen in relation with number E 0803 (Hebrew 0773) . The comparison shows that Hebrew has developed two similar but not identical roots to express one basic concept. In particular the Hebrew G and Q interchanged . Germanic tongues often add an S at the beginning of roots, without thereby changing the basic meaning of the same.


That has been done in this case as well. After this change, also pronunciations develop. Scandinavian tongues usually maintain the "K" after the "S", though also here the sound easily change . Dutch maintains the sound at "SGH". German and English soften it into "SH" ( in German written SCH).



  • Proto-Semitic. The root we find here is also found in Aramaic "ג ר ע, ger‛ = he shaved". Proto-Semitic may have used it already: " *ג נ ע, G R Ayin". And a pronunciation with a vowel " E ", as present in Aramaic, and in an intensive verbal form in Hebrew ( be it with a shift of meaning into "to reduce") may also have been used in Proto-Semitic : "* G E R".


  • Proto-Germanic. In older Germanic languages we find words related to this entry, that usually carry both meanings of "to shave" and forms of "to cut". Examples are Old Saxon "skeran", Old English "scieran", Old Norse "skera", Old High German "sceran, " Old Frisian "skera" and Middle Dutch "scēren". The initial couple of consonants, consisting of an "S" and a guttural"K" or "C", probably was present in Proto-Germanic. The initial "S" has been placed in front of the root without changing the message of the same. In other Indo-European languages like Greek that "S" is not present, as the table shows. Proto-Germanic probably had the form "*SK Ē R-".


  • Indo-European Words for "to shave" or "to cut one's beard", easily have developed from words meaning "to cut". The Greek word "keiro" has a number of meanings around actions of cutting, among which cutting hair of head or beard. The noun "κουρα, kūra = haircut, shaving , tonsure, sheep-shearing". This noun is a cognate of "keiro". Today a "κουρειον, kūreion" is a barber's shop.



    Indo-European. It is difficult to establish to what extent words like Hittite "iskar", Tokharian "kärst", Armenian "khorem", Baltic "*skir-" and Albanian "kor", that all deal with "to cut off" comprehended in daily use the cutting of hair or beards. But anyway they are cognates of Greek "keiro" and Proto-Germanic "skēr-".


    The original form may have been "*K Ē R-", later accompanied by a more specialized version "*SK Ē R-".





Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: 20/10/2012 at 17.26.36