E 0570          MASSAGE

The word " massage " comes from French .

H 0604           ח ש מ

Concept of root : manual spreading

Hebrew word


English meanings

ח ש מ


to spread, anoint

Related English words

massage, from French

Comparison between European words and Hebrew




English meanings

Similarity in roots


ח ש מ


to spread, anoint

m . sh . gh, <

*m . sh




to touch, feel, work something with hands

m . s




to spread, anoint

m . z




to touch with hands

m . s






to rub;


m .  s




m . s



Proto-Semitic *MASHAGH < *MASHÀ --- *MĂS- Indo-European



Messiah is the most important word based on this root. In Hebrew this is the " מ ש י ח , mashīagh ", who will come. In Greek this word was litterally translated, as "the ointed one, Χριστος , Khristos" in English abbreviated to "Christ". The verb is "χριω , khrio" that means "to smear, oint", just like the Hebrew verb "mashagh".



  • Russian. The Russian Z corresponds here to Hebrew SH, a quite acceptable development . And the Russian word in this case is the most near to Hebrew. One notes that the substantive "мазь, mazj" stands for "ointment, unguent". This gives the impression that the verb is based on the noun. And such a basic short noun is found in Greek as "μαζα , maza" = paste ". The meaning is different but of possibly related character.


    Russian has also a possibly related verb "месить, mesitj = to knead, pat".


  • Greek "masso" has much the same message of the verb "khrio" we just mentioned. It is not at all easy to distinguish between various related words that have to do with activities of the hand. There is also "μαζαω , mazao", = "to knead", which we refer to in entry RU 1268 (Hebrew 0605). And our verb "masso" also has the meaning of "to purify", that may refer to a spiritual meaning of manual gestures or touches, but also have a literal meaning.


    Seen the similarity with Hebrew, it is difficult to agree with the already in itself little convincing supposition that "masso" would have an archaic root "*menk".


  • Proto-Semitic. This root is found in Aramaic and Syriac in the words " מ ש ח , meshagh = to smear, anoint" and " מ ש ח א , mishagh'à (A), meshagh'à(S)= oil". Akkadian "mashā'u = to spread oil over" . Interesting is Arabic "masagha = he stroked, wiped with the hand, anointed", that also considered action without the necessary use of oil. It has "S" instead of "SH" but that has no relation to the meaning.


    The root found in Hebrew was probably used in Proto-Semitic: "* מ ש ח , M SH GH". Hebrew "mashagh" is a three-consonant-root that in all probability has been an extension of an earlier two-consonant-root "*M SH". The meaning of that root must have been "to palpate, touch with the hands, feel". It should have been present in Proto-Semitic as well. And indeed Hebrew, as shown in entry RU 1268 (Hebrew 0605) has a root " מ ש ש , M SH SH" with the message of "to palpate, touch all over". This means that the two consonant root "* מ ש ה , M SH H (accentuated vowel), mashà " should have been in use in Proto-Semitic.


  • Latin. Some scholars see Latin " massare " as derived from Greek " masso". The first person singular in the present tense is identical in both tongues . Seen the fact that there is also Slavic, it is more probable that Greek and Latin here have just a common origin, as so often is the case . And this common origin they share with Hebrew .



  • French has one of those old etymological myths: massage would come from Arabic "massa" that said "to touch, feel all over". One should then rather look at the Arabic word we mentioned before, "masagha". Well, of course these Arab words anyhow are just sisters of the Hebrew one of our entry. The existence of Greek and Latin makes the idea superfluous, besides the cultural improbability that this kind of action would need an Arab example to follow.


  • Indo-European. The existing hypothesis of "*M A G-" does not find a basis in the existing information.


    Greek. There exist words with "MAG" ( magma) or "MAK (maktra = trough)", regarding the concept of "to knead", but that is simply not the same as "to touch, anoint". Instead the indication from Greek is "MASS-" or "MAZ-", as shown above.


    Slavic has various hypotheses like "*mazj" and "*maslo", thus with "MAZ" and "MAS", in harmony with Russian as mentioned herefore.


    Baltic is near Slavic, with a hypothesis of "*mōzj-e-".


    Celtic. We have no information. Breton "meza" means " to knead", which is not "to touch, anoint".



    Indo-European may have had "*M A S-" for "to touch, anoint" and ""*M A Z-" for "to knead", but this differentation remains uncertain as we see in Russian the opposite division of tasks between "Z" and "S".





Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: 28/12/2012 at 9.38.18