E 0770          SCEPTIC

The word " sceptic " has a Greek origin .

H 0458         ב ש ח

Concept of root : observe and evaluate

Hebrew word


English meanings

ב ש ח



to observe and consider,

to think

Related English words

sceptic, from Greek

Comparison between European words and Hebrew




English meanings

Similarity in roots


ב ש ח

ghashav, ghishèv

to observe and consider, to think

gh . sh . b


σκοπεω, σκεπτομαι

skopeo, skeptomai

observe and consider, think

s k . p




sc . p



Proto-Semitic *GHASHAB --- *SPĒK- Indo-European



With identical meanings we see two roots with comparable basic sounds but arranged in a different way. This is the classic situation of a metathesis. It is normally difficult to define who, when and where went into metathesis. It seems to be between SP/SHB and K/GH: "SP - K" against "GH _ SH.B".


In this case we find a couple of Hebrew roots that indicate a relationship with "GH SH B" : the first one is "GH S" that has the message of "thinking about" when touching on the possessions of the brothers of Joseph in Israel, which they would have to leave behind. The second one seems less certain, "GH SH" for "conscious feeling" in a consideration by Qohelet.


Especially interesting as to the aspect of messages is that both languages have developed the original one of observing and considering or evaluating into the modern one of "to think". This in itself confirms in both groups an identicity of cultural thinking , a main factor for linguistic development.


  • Greek. The T in "skeptomai" is an infix.


  • Latin , Indo European. There is a general opinion that the Latin root "S P C ", found in English words as "spectacle", "spectrum" and "respect", are of the same origin as Greek "skopeo". As one notes, between Greek and Latin there is a metathesis , SKEP . There is agreement about the fact that Greek has made a metathesis and that the origin is "*SP Ē K-", which should be the Indo-European form


  • Greek and Hebrew versus Latin show that the first two have concluded that " to think " is the logical meaning to develop out of observing and considering. But Latin stopped at the second phase, that of " to consider ". More precisely : Latin " specere " says " to see, look " . Then the intensive form "spectare" means " to observe, consider ".


  • Proto-Semitic. Proto-Semitic used the same root "*ח ש ב , GH SH B" still present in Hebrew. It is also found in Aramaic and Syriac "ח ש ב , ghashav = to think" There are cognates in Arabic "aghasaba" and Ethiopian "ghasaba", both meaning "to reckon, calculate".


    We have no indications that the change in pronunciation of the final consonant " B " into " V ", as seen in Hebrew and Aramaic, may have begun in Proto-Semitic. Indeed, with Ethiopian and Arabic using the unchanged " B ", that consonant was certainly present in Proto-Semitic.


  • Indo-European. The hypothesis of "*SP Ē K-" finds support in other Indo-European languages.


    Old Indian has "pásyati = sees" and a "spáts" is an "observer, one who scroots, spies".


    Avestan has with the same meanings "spasueiti" and "spash-" and even "spashtar-" which is nearly identical to Latin "spector". The "SH" or "S" " instead of "C = K" is a very generalized development in the eastern Indo-European languages.


    Old Church Slavonic has a "paziti = to give attention to". Here the " Z " comes from an older guttural.





Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: 24/01/2013 at 16.03.12