E 0544          LOAN, LEND

The words " loan "and " lend " are of Germanic origin .

H 0556        ה ו ל ה ,ה ו ל

Concept of root : borrow and loan

Hebrew word


English meanings

ה ו ל ה; ה ו ל

lawą; hilwą

to borrow

Related English words

loan, lend, Old English līon, lǽnan

Comparison between European words and Hebrew




English meanings

Similarity in roots


ה ו ל;

ה ו ל ה



to borrow;


l . w . <

*l o




to hire, rent

l o




to rent, loan

l (o) c

Old English

līon ;


to loan

l (io) ;

l . n


loan ;


loan ;


l . n ;

l . nd


leilvan; lihwan

leilvan; lihwan

to loan;

to lend

l (i) l v <

* l (v);

l (i) hw

Old Icelandic



to loan

l (y)




to loan

l . i h

Old High German





to loan;

loaned (prt)

l (i) h;

l (i) w



Proto-Semitic *LAWÀ --- *LOW-, *LĪW- Indo-European



The concept and roots are similar between Germanic and Hebrew. The action of renting or hiring as found in the Latin words is certainly akin to that of borrowing and loaning without payment.


  • Germanic shows various developments of this root . English "loan" , presumably derived from Old Norwegian "lan" with the same meaning, that has also an "O-sound", that may have been present in Old Norse pronunciation. This O-sound may be the consequence of maintaining a vocalized old "W"; we also see a "W" in Hebrew.


    Dutch has used the same system, with the verb "lenen" for "to borrow" as well as "to loan". But German and Old High German have not introduced this N and have chosen instead to lengthen the (spelling of the) root with an H that anyhow in modern language is not pronounced.


    And there is more , as we see the Goths doubling the initial L in their verb "leilvan". Looking closer we must conclude that they doubled the LO, turning it into LI. Then they inserted the vowel E, lengthening the vowel I into EI as so often has been the case in Germanic tongues. Thus the "LOW" we see in Hebrew, became "LEILV" in Gothic. The Goths behaving like the Greeks often did this in doubling the beginning of words.


    This Gothic word originally was very near Hebrew, and the same must be said of Old Icelandic " lja ".
    Middle English introduced the D that is present in English "lend".


  • Proto-Germanic. The initial consonant "L" is common to all languages, though it sometimes becomes "LJ" in what can be defined as a local habit. A second consonant "W" as in Hebrew is not found but a bit oddly there is the corresponding vowel-sound "O" in English "loan" and perhaps in Danish and Swedish "lån". As the older Nordic forms had "lįn" in Old Norse and "lān" in Old Swedish and Old Danish, one sees no direct link with the "W" in this. On the other hand English "loan" is seen as lent from Nordic, which indicates that the pronunciation of the Scandinavian "Ā" was in fact like that of "OA" in "loan" already in old times. Gothic "lihwan" recalls the Hebrew "W" that as indicated above in "lowé" sounds like "OW". In this respect it is also useful to recall the Old High German perfect participle "giliwan" that shows the "W" still in the root not unlike Hebrew.


    Gothic, Old Saxon "lēhan" and German "leihen" with its predecessors (as OHG lēhan) have a second consonant "H ". This guttural finds company in older words for "to lease" in Old Norse "leiga" and Old Swedish "lēgha (!)", but also in modern Swedish "lega= lease" and "leja = to lease".


    Proto-Germanic probably had "*L I HW-" for both "loan and "lend" .


  • Latin and French. French "louer" is seen as coming from Latin "locare", but this is not too certain when we look at the Provencale form "loyar", the French noun "loyer" for "rent" and the possible influence of Germanic tongues, an in itself frequent phenomenon in French.


  • Latin "locare" is firmly seen as shaped after the noun "locus" that means "place". We fully agree that there is a Latin verb "locare" that means "to place" and therefore is related to the noun "locus". They both have the same "LOC" and their meanings are very much akin. But there is also the verb "locare" that does not mean "to place", but "to rent (to somebody)", which is a bit too different from simply placing something. Besides, this verb "locare" also means "to give a loan to somebody", a loan in money. Therefore we believe that the original root "*lo", present in Hebrew, in Latin was extended with C and in some Germanic tongues with H. The various Latin verbs "locare" are of course identical in sound, but not in meaning and are of different origins.


  • Hebrew in the basic version "lawą" has the message of "to receive a loan" and in the other verb, "hilwą" that of "to give a loan". "Hilwą" is in fact a causative and can be seen as saying: "to make somebody receive a loan". But this usage is not fully consequent, as a "loangiver" is a "lowé ( ל ו ו ה ), without that initial H of the causative form.This word "lowé" is really very interesting as it shows the O-sound that we did not find in the two verbs. It is linked to the W-sound. We have indicated this particular phenomenon in our page "The willing and willful W", (Hebrew 0001_aa28).


  • Proto-Semitic. There are three identical roots "ל ו ה , L W H (accentuated vowel)". Their meanings are: 1. to borrow; 2. to join; 3. to wind, turn, twist. It is hardly possible to invent a relationship between these messages and we must accept that they are independent. For all three it is also hard to find cognates in other Semitic languages, with the main exception of Arabic that has respectively: 1. "lāwa = he delayed payment of debt"; 2. "waliya = he was near"; 3. "lawā = he wound, turned, twisted". Besides this there is for number 2. Aramaic and Syriac "lewą = he accompanied".


    A certain possibility for a Proto-Semitic "*ל ו ה, L W H (accentuated vowel)" exists.


  • Indo-European. Having seen the similarity between Germanic and Hebrew, there is no reason to suppose that our words have been derived from a longer Indo-European root "*leikw" as is mostly done.


    We propose on the basis of Germanic "*lihw" and Latin "lo-c-" rather a hypothesis of "*L Ō W-" or "*L Ī W-".





Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: 05/11/2012 at 10.45.29