E 0209          ( TO )  CROP

The word " crop " is of Germanic origin .

H 0443            ב ר ח

Concept of root : to crop

Hebrew word


English meanings

ב ר ח



to crop, hew;

sword, knife

ף ר ח


harvest time, autumn, winter

Related English words

crop, harvest

Comparison between European words and Hebrew




English meanings

Similarity in roots


ב ר ח

gharav ; gherev

to crop; sword. knife

gh . r . b


ף ר ח


harvest time, autumn, winter

gh . r . p




scythe, sickle

k . r p




to crop, pick

c . r p




c r . p

Dutch; Middle Dutch

garf, garven; garve, garven

sheaf, sheaves

g . r v



Proto-Semitic *GHARAB --- *GĂRB- Proto-Germanic

Proto-Semitic *GHARAP --- *KĂRP- Indo-European



There are many words that express in one way or other "to cut". Probably in old societies fine distinctions hade to be made and were made between the ways one might cut things and different words were developed. In our case the interface of common origin is there, but it remains narrow as the European use of the root "GH.R.B." has developed towards that of harvesting, whereas Hebrew has eliminated its use as a verb in that same sense.


It is also interesting to note that a sheaf of wheat in Dutch is called, as seen in the table: a " garf ", obviously using for this result of harvesting the same ancient root we see for the activity of harvesting as such.


Besides this we see an identical root with the fully different meaning of "to be dry" etc, in entry E 0047 (Hebrew 0442). In Modern Hebrew we find a noun "gherev" for "sword". But in old language this same word was used for many kinds of cutting instruments, such as "knife" and "sickle", used for harvesting, cropping, whereas the verb "gharav" was used to say "to mow". Naturally also figurative meanings came into the picture, rather in the "figurative-literal" sense of "mowing" the enemy in war.


Here follows a list of Hebrew roots, having the first two consonants GH.R and meanings in the wider field of cutting :


GH.R.B   ghérebà = pruning knife , a typically agricultural cutting instrument
GH.R.B.   to mow
GH.R.TH   to chisel, engrave
GH.R.KH   crack
GH.R.M.   ghéremèsh = sickle, a typically agricultural cutting instrument
GH.R.PH   to say sharp things ( becoming figurative )
GH.R.PH   sharp, pungent
GH.R.TS   to cut, cut in
GH.R.TS   gharuts= thresher, flail, not cutting but an agricultural instrument
GH.R.Q   ghérèq = cut, notch
GH.R.SH   to cut in, carve
GH.R.T.   to engrave


And there are a few others, beginning with K.R, G.R. or Q.R.



  • Hebrew, as shown, besides the verb for "to hew, to crop", with this root makes also the noun "gherev", that is a sword, but also a dagger or knife and probably also a "sickle".


  • Proto-Semitic. Similar roots "ח ר ב , GH R B" in Hebrew are used to expressed the concepts of " to be dry" and " to be waste, desolate". The last one is found in many Semitic languages and may be originally one with the first. The root "ח ר ב , gharb'à". of this entry is also found in other Semitic tongues. Aramaic and Syriac have "ח ר ב א , ghareb'à = sword". Ugaritic uses the same root for the same meaning as in Hebrew. In Arabic one sees "gharbah = spear, lance" and "gharb = war " !!! In Akkadian then "gharbu" says "plow". The root was probably present in Proto-Semitic as in Hebrew : "*ח ר ב , GH R B".


    The change in pronunciation of the third consonant, from " B " into " V ", as known in Hebrew and Aramaic, may have occurred later then in Proto-Semitic, as the mentioned Akkadian and Arabic words show an unchanged " B" .


    The second Hebrew root of this entry has sisters in Arabic that link it clearer to the concept of "harvest". Arabic "gharafa" refers to "to gather fruit, pluck" and "gharīf" litterally means "freshly gathered fruit, autumn, fall". Proto-Semitic probably used this root "*ח ר ף , GH R P".


    Here it is uncertain if the change in pronuncioation, seen in Hebrew from final " P " into " PH " may have begun in Proto-Semitic, as also Arabic already uses the " PH = F " in "gharf = cutting edge".


  • English. The word crop today is used more to specify the result of "to crop" than the action itself, but that does not change the origin. And ion the origin the word "crop" indicated the various parts of different plants that were to be "cropped" and became the harvested "crop". The English word "harvest" is based on this same root, that is confirmed as originally indicating a way of cutting. Also the German word for autumn, that is Herbst, and its Dutch sister "herfst", have this origin as cousins of English "harvest".
    Cropped hair is still closely cut hair.


  • Proto-Germanic. There exists in Germanic languages a not related similar root or perhaps there are more roots with various meanings, such as body (German "Körper, Swedish "kropp"), corpse, throat (Low German "krop"), throat sickness (German "Kropf"), croup (rump part of horse) , crop of bird etcetera.


    In the sense of this entry we see in Old English "crop" and "cropp" for " sprout, flower, berry, ear of corn, cluster, bunch", all things that are to be gathered or harvested. In modern Dutch a "krop sla" is a "head of lettuce", but in Middle Dutch a "crop" was much like in Old English, besides all those other meanings regardings birds, throats and bodies. It is possible that Proto-Germanic had also for the meanings in Old English a form "*KR O P-".


    The Middle Dutch word "garve" (also "schoof = sheaf"), nearer in sound to the first Hebrew root "GH R B (V)" of this entry than the English word "crop", but less near to the "GH R PH" of the second Hebrew root, is on the contrary very near the meaning of that "GH R PH", but less to its sound. Undoubtedly they are related in the further origin. In Germanic tongues there are Old Saxon and Old High German "garba" and some say that all these words are linked to the concept expressed in English "to grip". Anyhow "Garbe" in German and "garf" in Dutch seem to have no sisters in other Germanic languages. Yet it is probable that they come from Proto-Germanic, that may have been "*G A RB-.


  • Indo-European.


    Related to Semitic GH R B . The available information is limited to Germanic languages.


    Related to Semitic GH R P, there is a hypothesis "*K A RP-" that seems right. Besides Latin, Greek and English as mentioned in the Table, there is more information. We remark that Greek "καρπος, karpos = fruit" is seen as related to the Latin verb "carpere", saying in fact, "that what has been plucked, cut off". Here between the two Greek words "karpos" and "kropion" we see a metathesis that regards the consonant " R ", very sensible to this kind of adventure. More metatheses are seen, as between Latin "carpere" and English "crop".


    Old Indian "krpānah = sword " and "krpāni = scissors, dagger ". This can be compared with Hebrew "gherev = sword" that has a " B " instead of the Old Indian " P ".


    Celtic often is not keen on " P "'s and show Middle Irish "corrān" = sickle".


    Baltic shows a Latvian "cirpe = sickle". Lithuanian "kirpti = to cut", clearly related.


    Slavic in Old Russian "tsherp = sickle" comes from the same origin.


We observe that where as we see for "sickle" the third consonant " P " used in Slavic and Baltic, Hebrew has a consonant " M ". This is a clear indication how languages develop their roots, often from two consonants to three, and not always with the same choice for the third one.





Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: 24/01/2013 at 15.18.23