The word " galaxy " is, via Latin and Old French, of Greek origin .

H 0424 ב ל ח

Concept of root : milk

Hebrew word


English meanings

ב ל ח


milk, to milk

Related English words


Comparison between European words and Hebrew




English meanings

Similarity in roots


ב ל ח



to milk

gh . l . v





g . l .




g . l .



Proto-Semitic *GHALAB --- *GĀL- Greek



The term "galaxy" , internationally used, stands for " Milky Way " and is based on the Greek word "gala" that stands for " milk " .


The Hebrew word "ghalav" says "milk", but stands also for "to milk", that in Greek is the non-related "αμελγω , amelgo". This same Greek word says also "to suck", which shows it is linked to the original practical function of milk. It is a cognate of English "milk".



  • English and Indo European. There is a complaint that no common root has been found for "milk" in Indo European. This is simply not right. English "milk" has sisters in all Germanic languages as well as in Greek "αμελγω , amelgo, to milk" and even "μελκα , melka " , a sour milk dish . Also Slavic languages use the three consonants "M L K" for "milk", as in Russian " "молоко , moloko = milk".


    The second Indo European root for "milk" is in Greek "gala" and is as we see in this entry , not identical but related to Hebrew "ghalav". Then there is Latin "lac", that some believe to be akin to Greek "gala". It is useful to know that Greek "gala" originally had a genitive case "galatos. This seems to indicate that the K-sound in the newer genitive "galaktos" and consequently in "galaxy" was not part of the original root.


    This all means that for the Greek word "gala", interesting and important because obviously a cognate of Hebrew "ghalav" we have little information from other Indo-European languages. Must our hypothesis remain based on just Greek : "*G Ā L-"? There remains yet some idea of a total metathesis with Latin "L A K-", possibly supported by another existing Greek word for "milk", that is "γλαγος , glagos = milk" . This word on the appearance might have developed, by the doubling of the " G ", out of an earlier "*lag-os", a possible cognate of Latin "lac". But this idea is made less certain by the definition of "glagos" as "poetic".


  • Hebrew. Hebrew has another word with what is not the same but an identical root : "ghelev " that says " fat " or " grease ". This is not found in Greek. As for Hebrew "ghlav" and "ghelev", one may in some kinds of meat imagine a likeness between the presence of smaller nearly veinlike growths of whitish fat and milk.


  • Proto-Semitic. Proto-Semitic is seen as having the same root found in Hebrew. Aramaic and Syriac have "ח ל ב , ghalav" and "ח ל ב א , ghaleb'".


    Some believe that compared with the Hebrew word "ghalav", Proto-Semitic used "*ghaliv", because this form is found in Ge'ez Ethiopian "ghalib = milk", but that is only a small indication , while Arabic uses both forms in "ghalab, ghalib = milk". Then there is Akkadian "ghalābu = to milk". Anyhow Proto-Semitic probably had the root "*ח ל ב , GH L B".


    It is not probable that the change in pronunciation of the final consonant " B " into " V ", as seen in Hebrew and Aramaic, has begun in Proto-Semitic, as one finds the " B " in several other important Semitic languages.





Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: 24/01/2013 at 10.50.27