LA 1246          AMARUS

H 0594            ר מ

Concept of root : bitterness

Hebrew word


English meanings

ר מ

ר ר מ

mar; marar

bitter, gall; to be bitter

Related English words


Comparison between European words and Hebrew




English meanings

Similarity in roots


ר מ

ר ר מ



bitter, gall;

to be bitter

m (a) r ; >

m . r . r





. m (a) r




bitter, sharp, wry

. m p . r



Proto-Semitic *MAR --- *AMAR- Indo-European



The main difference between Latin and Hebrew lies in the initial A which lacks in the second. Germanic may in a way be intermediate, if the A has come forward , compensated by a dumb E between the consonants. But this remains conjecture, and the A , both in Latin and Germanic can be a confirming A . And even that is an hypothesis, a strong one, but not a certainty. Absolute certainty is rare in comparative etymology.


  • Germanic. Sometimes a link is sought to a Germanic word "*ampar", that has its descendants in Dutch "amper" (meaning "sharp, acid, wry", but rather out of use) and especially Swedish "amper", that unites a number of meanings, both litteral and figurative, and that comprises "bitter": "sharp, bitter, harsh". The development of M into MP is quite understandable, especially if people wanted to emphasize the difficult taste they experienced. The Swedish word really is enlightening as to our similarity.


  • Proto-Germanic. The Swedish and Norwegian word "amper" for "bitter" besides "sour, wry" was present in Old Swedish, and has sisters in Middle Dutch and Low German. Possible cognates as Old English "ompre" and Old High German "ampfer" tend towards the meaning of "sour, acid". Probably Proto-Germanic had the root "*A M P R" for the various meanings of "bitter" and "sour".


  • Proto-Semitic. Proto-Semitic is considered to have already used the same two roots that are still present in Hebrew . These two versions are: the original two consonant root "*M . R" and the lengthened, three consonant root "*M . R . R". In Aramaic one sees " מ ר ר ,merar = was bitter" with M . R . R". Syriac has " מ ר , mar = was bitter", with M R.


    Arabic shows "marra = was , became bitter", "marrara = made bitter", "amarra = was, became bitter" and "murr = bitter". In Ethiopian "marra = was bitter" there is "M R". Akkadian marru, marāru = bitter". Particularly interesting seems Arabic "amarra = was or became bitter" with the initial vowel A , comparable to Latin "amarus".


    Proto-Semitic probably had the two consonant root מ ר , M . R" and possibly also developed the lengthened three consonant root "* מ ר ר , M . R . R".


  • Indo-European. Old Indian instead of the European "R" has an "L" , with perhaps the exception of an unchanged "āmrágh = almond tree": "amláh, amblágh = sour, acid". A sometimes mentioned word like āmáGH = raw, uncooked" at the best is very far related . Old Indian had "A M L-".


    The introduction of the consonants "P" and "B" in Germanic and Old Indian may be considered as similar but not identical local developments.


    A similar word is also found in Albanian "amble, emble = sweet", with a root "E MB L".


    Probably Indo-European had a form "A M A R- for "bitter".





Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: 08/11/2012 at 10.32.21