E 0340          FLIT

The Old English word " flit "  is  of Germanic origin .

H 0676            ל ע פ

Concept of root : assiduous working for a goal

Hebrew word


English meanings

ל ע פ


to work for goal, accomplish

Related English words

Old English flit, flitan

Comparison between European words and Hebrew




English meanings

Similarity in roots


ל ע פ


to work for goal, accomplish

p .(‛). l






f l . s






v l . t

Old English

flit ;


exertion ;

f l . t



Proto-Semitic *PA‛AL --- *FLĪ-T Proto-Germanic



Old English, German and Dutch have respectively an S and a T added to an earlier root that did not have a third consonant. Hebrew has three consonants, P, ע , L, of which the middle one, the Ayin, is not felt as a consonant by English speakers. But the weight it exercises in the middle of a word, in "Fleiss" and "vlijt" has shifted, through a metathesis, to the place after the L. Besides this, an initial labial P in Hebrew easily becomes a PH or F already in other Semitic languages. No wonder if this also happens in some Indo-European tongue. It is difficult to establish rules about when this may happen and when not. An example of the shifting between P and F is seen in comparing the words "Philistines " and " Palestina" , both derived from Hebrew " פ ל ש ת י , pelishtì ".
And in fact also our "pa‛al" in Arabic is "fa‛ala.


This important Hebrew verb, "pa‛al" , has a few colleagues at work. One is " ע ב ד ‛avad = working and working hard. The second is " ע ש ה ‛assa", that stands for "trying (hard) to achieve", resulting also in the meaning of "to do" . Number three is " ע צ ב , ‛atsav " that speaks of a situation of work that is near that of suffering. Our "pa‛al" itself deals with working towards a set goal , like one operating to accomplish something. So we see this Hebrew verb "pa‛al" also meaning " to do, make, accomplish". And in its intensive form "pi‛èl" : "to influence, prevail". Understandably today also a machine that works, is commented by this root.


It is the attitude of the person who does "pa‛al", in practical language "po‛èl", that German and Dutch express in their abovementioned words. That is the basis of the similarity in message of this entry.


  • Proto-Germanic.This same word is found in the Nordic languages . But all tongues have concentrated on the noun, forgetting about the old verb that was in Old English "flitan", Middle High German "flizen" and Old High German "flizan". The initial " V " in Dutch is a common development out of an initial "F ". De German "SS" in "Fleiss" " is so out of " T ". Also the "EI-" sounds may come normally from an older long "Ī ".


    Trying to achieve a goal often may bring a necessity of "fight", besides " struggle" and "strife", but that does not imply hat the original meaning was one of these three, as sometimes is thought. In Middle Dutch the word clearly means "diligence, assiduity, industry, zeal, fervour" and only far away it was used also for "combativeness", in specific situations.


    Proto-Germanic probably had a form "*FL Ī T-".


  • Hebrew supports the specific message of our root "P ע(Ayin) L" in a related one : " פ ל א , pal’à ". This root carried the meaning of exceptional accomplishment. Such a kind of meaning is in harmony with the related message of "pa‛al" as "working towards a goal an accomplishment". In modern language the meaning of "pa‛al" has flattened out a bit.


    In the Bible concepts like "wonderful action, causing marvel, extraordinary results" are expressed with this root .


  • Proto-Semitic. This root is present in Phoenician and Old Aramaic " פ ע ל , P Ayin L" with the same meanings as in Hebrew. Aramaic and Syriac have " פ ע ל , pe‛al = he worked, laboured". Arabic "fa‛ala = he did, made, worked". Probably the same root was used in Proto-Semitic "* פ ע ל , P Ayin L".


  • Indo-European. Regretfully we lack indications towards possible cognates in other groups of Indo-European. The comparison stays between Semitic and Germanic.





Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: 15/11/2012 at 16.05.51