E 0356        GARÇON, GIRL

The English word " garçon " is a loanword from French. The word "girl" is of Germanic origin.

H 0387            ר ו ג

Concept of root : youngster

Hebrew word


English meanings

 ר ו ג



young lion;

young animal

Related English words

garçon, girl

Comparison between European words and Hebrew




English meanings

Similarity in roots


ר ו ג



young lion; young animal

g . r





g . r





gar ;



adolescent, young man;


g . r s

Middle Low German

gör, göre



g . r




young girl

g . r






g . r s;

g . r .l < g . r



Proto-Semitic *GUR --- *GOR Indo-European



This entry should be seen in connection with entry number E 0356 (Hebrew 0240). In that entry one finds two words for "human youngster", one of which has been developed on the basis of the root "G W R" of this actual entry H 0387 by adding a prefix "B".


The similarity between Greek and Hebrew is rather neat, but a bit more difficult is the French aspect.



  • Proto-Germanic. Like so often, a Germanic word comes near a Hebrew one. In Middle Low German the word "gör(e)" was used for both boys and girls. Then gradually the meaning became concentrated on "girl", especially "little girl".


    The link with English "girl" encounters a problem on account of the "L". But an "L" is also a German suffix that indicates a diminutive. This is mainly used in the southern part of Germany. It is unclear in what way also English came to use this ( diminutive ?) "L", already present in Middle English "girle, gurle, gerle", but there can be little doubt about the English and German words being cognates. Proto-Germanic may have used a form "*G O R". Both the English "I" and the German "Ö" may have their origin in an "O".


  • French first of all has the word "garçon" that has also its Italian, Spanish and Portuguese version. It is composed of "gars" + suffix "on", and originally means "big gars", a bit like "big boy". The basic word "gars" also has feminine "garce" and is found in Provençal "gartz". Its etymology has created problems. One tentative has been to link gars to "war" and the second part to "son". Thus the word meant "warson" or "son ripe for war". This does not take into account that the basic word "gars" exists and the reasoning is therefore obviously wrong.


    Others link it to Latin "garzuolo", or the heart of a cabbage, because those young guys are as tender as the innermost part of a cabbage ! They have not added if they believe in "babies" being found in or under cabbages, like in old times was told to kids in the Italian South.


    We see a probability that the word "gars" is related to the above Greek, Germanic and Hebrew words, although the Neo-Latin languages do not have an O as vowel.


  • Greek as well has a male and female version, "κουρη , kurè" or more common "κορη , korè " that in Modern Greek with the pronunciation "kori" has become also the usual term for "daughter". And in the diminutive "κοριτσι , koritsi " shares a number of meanings with the French word " fille " .


  • Proto-Semitic. With the meanings "cub, whelp" there are related words in various Semitic languages. Aramaic has "ג ו ר, gur" and also "ג ו ר א, gur'à" and Syriac "ג ו ר י א, guri'à". Akkadian says "gerru" and Arabic, changing as usual the intial "G" into "J", "jarw, jirw".


    Proto-Semitic is supposed to have the same root, " *ג ר, G . R", found in Hebrew. Yet it is also probable that there was a second root, "*ג ו ר, G.W.R", that can either be older or newer . If it is older, than the central consonant Waw, pronounced as "U" has been lost in some languages. If it is newer, it has been introduced into Aramaic and Hebrew in order to distinguish this word/meaning combination from another word, "ger = stranger, newcomer, convert". The probability is that the version with central vowel " U " is the older one, as usual.


  • Indo-European. On the basis of Greek, Germanic and with the support of Neo-Latin, hypotheses of "*G Ū R" and "K Ū R-" can be made.


    In Old Indian we find words like "kâr-ikâ" = servant girl" and "kâr-ya = son of an outcast", that may be related to the words of this entry.





Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: 21/10/2012 at 18.51.58