The word " heart " is of Germanic origin .

The word " cordial " is of Latin origin .

The first word part " cardio- " is of Greek origin .

H 0510 ש ר כ

Concept of root : inner body

Hebrew word


English meanings

ש ר כ



Related English words


Comparison between European words and Hebrew




English meanings

Similarity in roots


ש ר כ



k . r . s


κηρ,κεαρ καρδια

kr, kear


heart (and mind)

k . r,

k . r d


cor, cordis

cor, cordis

heart, stomach

c . r (d)


hairto; herðra

hairto; herðra

heart; heart, bowels

h . rt ;

h . r ð

Old High German

herza; herdar

herza; herdar

heart; intestines

h . rz ;

h . r . d


heart ;

cordial ;


heart ;

cordial ;


h . r t ;

c . r d



Proto-Semitic *KARÈS --- *KĀRD- Indo-European



We kindly propose to read as well the comments in entry E 0151 (Hebrew 0509), regarding the same Hebrew root. There some doubts and uncertainties have been expressed and commented.


Man has always wanted to define the physical essence, the centre, of his own person. In various civilizations different seats of life or personality have been supposed . Oddly, the same root, indicating the essence of the living person, may indicate different body-parts. This we see in Entry number E 0542 (Hebrew 0533) with English "liver" and Hebrew "lev, liv-", which stands for "heart". But it can also happen that the same basic root develops into words for different body-parts, independent of their specific role as centre of life.


This is what we perhaps have found in this entry, where a similar root has led to the concept of "heart" in European languages and to that of "belly" in Hebrew. This is not too odd if we consider that in some more far-off languages the concept of "belly" is used in a manner not too dissimilar to the way English uses the word "heart".


This is confirmed if we observe that in fact also Latin "cor" carried the probably older and perhaps even original meaning of "stomach", which again is not too far away from the concept of "belly" in Hebrew. And in a number of other Semitic languages we find this same root expressing the concept of " stomach .



  • Proto-Semitic. Proto-Semitic had the root we find in Hebrew . We refer to our note in entry E 0151 (Hebrew 0509): "* כ ר ש".


  • Hebrew and Germanic. It is interesting to see how in older Germanic languages , like Gothic and Old High German are shown in the table, words for "heart" and "intestines" are strongly related.


  • Proto-Germanic. There is a hypothsis of a form "*khirt-", that then gets its suffixes, like "-an, -on". This supposition is suggested by the wish or necessity to establish the link between Indo-European with an initial " K " and Germanic with an initial " H ". There is no indication and even less any certainty about a "KH" or "GH" in Germanic languages or elsewhere. We just do not know if there has been a "GH" or "KH" at all. The ways of developing have not been established. This is a reasoning valid for the word "heart", but also for many other Germanic words.


    The Germanic words for "heart" all have an initial "H" and after the central vowel an "RT", except German "Herz" and its predecessors with "RZ" as a typical proper development. The Nordic languages after the "H" have " J " in Old Norse and New Norwegian "hjarta", Old Danish "hiartae" and Old Swedish "hirta", Swedish "hjrta" and Danish "hjerte". This is a common Nordic development.


    Gothic has "hairto", but the pronunciation of this "AI" is considered as having been very near " 'E ". Old English, possibly under Scandinavian influence, had "heorte, becoming English "heart", pronounced today nearly like Dutch "hart". Old Saxon and Old Franconian "herta", Old High German "herza", Middle High German "herz(e)" and German "herz" like Old Frisian "herte" all have a short "E" or "E'". Middle Dutch had both "hert" and "hart".


    There also exists a hypothesis of an initial "GH"-sound in Proto-Germanic, but this finds no support in the known languages. If such a sound has indeed preceded the "H", that would have been rather earlier than in Proto-Germanic, that probably already had "*H E RT-"


  • Indo-European.


    Old Indian has "hŗd", in which the " Ŗ " performs the function of vowel. Very important is that in composed words, like "suhārd" the vowel "A" is again present.


    Avestan in "zĕrĕdā" has changed the initial "K" into "Z" in a normal development, with the addition of an accentuated vowel "Ā".


    Armenian has an interesting "sirt" with "S" for "K".


    Slavic has a hypothesis of "*сьрдьсе, sjdrjse, that is based on Old Church Slavonic and "*serdj" has followed the "satem-centum" rule and dulled the vowel. Russian is "сердце, sjerdtse = heart".


    Baltic has a hypothesis of "*sherd-", with Old Prussian oddly "seyr", but Lithuanian "shirds" and Latvian "siřds" .


    Hittite is near Greek with "kardiash, gen. kardi" = heart".


    Celtic in Old Irish has "cride" = heart and Cymric "craidd = heart", with a vowel "A" in it. This word says as well "middle", like does Breton "kreiz", but this does not mean that "middle" is an original meaning. Instead it can be seen as a common way of using the word "heart", like in English "the heart of town, the heart of the matter".



    Indo-European. Supposing that the use of the vowel "O" in Latin is a specific development, the probable Indo-European form was "*K Ă R D-".




Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: 01/11/2012 at 18.21.43