E 0839          (TO)  SMACK

The English verb " to smack " is, via Middle Dutch, of Germanic origin .

H 0575         ה ח מ ,א ח מ

Concept of root : beating

Hebrew word


English meanings

ה ח מ ,א ח מ


to beat, hit

Related English words

to smack, from Middle Dutch

Comparison between European words and Hebrew




English meanings

Similarity in roots


ה ח מ ,א ח מ


to beat, hit

m . gh






to fight ;

*to beat, hit

m . gh


to smack

to smack (hit, strike)

sm . ck




to hit, beat

sm . ck

Middle Dutch



to beat, hit,

to throw down

sm . k



Proto-Semitic *MAGHÀ --- *MĂKK- Indo-European



Words for "to beat" in many languages have led to words for "battle", as is the case with these just mentioned two English ones, "beat, battle". We can also cite French "battre,bataille"; Italian "battere, battaglia"; German "schlagen, Schlacht"; Dutch "slaan, slag"; Swedish "slå- slåss – slag"; as well as Russian that gives us even two examples : "бить , bitj" with "битва , bitwa" and "сражать , srazjatj" with "сражене , srazjenje". In Hebrew we find an accentuation of this in a different way, with the second verb of this entry, the one with the final "ה", also meaning "to destroy, obliterate", that can be seen as the result of a battle, especially in war.



  • Greek "maghomai" is a medio-passive form . That means that there must have been a basic active form "magho", that had the meaning of "to beat, hit". The noun "μαχη , maghč" gradually has acquired as its principal meaning that of "battle".


    This time we have transcribed the Greek letter χ as GH. Other times we choose KH. Both are possible transcriptions of a sound that may have in some cases a K-sound and in others a G-sound as its origin.


  • Proto-Semitic. Hebrew uses roots " מ ח ה , M GH H (accentuated vowel)" for a number of quite different messages, such as "to strike (upon)", "to hinder, prevent, protest", "to wipe, wipe out", "to draw a draft, assign payment", "to melt, dilute, dissolve", "to recognize authority". This root with our meaning of "to clap hands" is found in Aramaic " מ ח א , meghā" as well, but that gives only a narrow basis for a hypothesis. But then there also exists a related root " מ ח ץ , M GH TS", that says " to smite, wound" , in Hebrew, Ethiopian, Akkadian and OS Arabic. That indicates a possible original two consonant root " * מ ח ה , M . GH . H (accentuated vowel)" for Proto-Semitic. This hypothesis finds further support in Arabic " aghadha = to beat, agitate".


  • English and Dutch. This word has received an initial S without by this changing its meaning other than by accentuating it and adding the variation of throwing down, which may be the effect of a special way of hitting. In Modern Dutch the original meaning has lost some ground. Besides the meaning of "to hit, beat" there are others for this verb, such as that of certain movements of the mouth or lips.


    We find interesting to see that this or a similar verb "smakken" is a sister of English "to smack" with only a difference in nuance of meaning. This nuance is that the English word refers to a movement of the lips, whereas the Dutch one talks about the movement of the whole mouth when eating loud .
  • Italian in the same way has formed a word : "sbattere (la bocca = the mouth)", (thus placing an S in front of the verb "battere = to hit ) that is identical in meaning to Dutch "smakken" of the mouth.


  • Proto-Germanic. The relatively few languages in which we found the root of this entry, all have initial SM, followed by a vowel "A" or a development of this, and closing with a K-sound. English "to smack" is considered a loanword from Dutch, because there is no evidence of a predecessor in Old English, but that remains uncertain. Probably this was present in Proto-Germanic: "*SM A K-".


  • Indo-European. We find a hypothesis of "* M A GH- ", that on the basis of the above information may be amended to "*M Ă K-".





Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: 06/11/2012 at 12.03.30