E 0673         PEACE

The word " peace " is, via Old French, of Latin origin .

H 0746         ס י פ

Concept of root : peace

Hebrew word


English meanings

ס י פ


to pacify

Related English words

peace, from Latin

Comparison between European words and Hebrew




English meanings

Similarity in roots


ס י פ


to  pacify

p (y) s


pax, gen. pacis




p . c

Old Prussian




p . ck




p . c

Middle English

pais, pes


p . s



Hebrew PIYÈS < *PAYAS --- *PAX Latin < *PĀK- Indo-European



This Hebrew verb is not the basic form, that would be "*payas", but the intensive one. The causative form in Hebrew of this same verb , "hépis", says "to calm" and the reflexive form "hitpayès" is "to make peace with each other". Consequently the basic form should have meant "to be calm, at peace".


Unless this is a loanword , the limited similarity may mean a common origin. The roots are not identical and there is no clear explanation why the Latin C also in this case should correspond with the S, as we find in Hebrew.


This root in this specific meaning is found in Post Biblical Hebrew texts only and naturally scholars think it must have been borrowed from Greek. The Greek word would have been the noun "peisis = persuasion", supposedly from a hypothetical Indo European root "*bheidh" that is thought to have led to Latin "fides = trust" and English "to bid". We must say not only that the semantic links are very far off, but as well that "peisis" meant "suffering, undergoing, mental disturbance". Persuasion in Greek was expressed by the nouns "peisma (gen. peismatos)" and "peithò (gen. peitho'os)". The relative verb was "peitho, peithein". Besides this there was no cultural or religious need for the Jews to loan a word with this message .


Another important point is that with this root "P.Y.S" a complete set of verbal forms has been put to use : piyès, puyas, hitpayès, hiphìs . And on top of this other words in typical Hebrew words-shaping : piùs, payisan, haphasà, hitpayesut, miphuyàs . Too much immediate result upon the odd borrowing of a foreign word . The probable solution is that, as so often, the root existed but never found its way into the Biblical texts, that is not with the relative meanings and not even as a "hapax legomenon".


Yes, the root "P.Y.S" was well present in the Bible with "to cast lots" and further with "to squeeze, remove ". And this is not all . The same verb of this entry, besides "peace", talked about "to sooth, mollify". This is a further complication to establish any need for borrowing. A language wants a word from another tongue for specific cultural and practical reasons, but here we find a classic Biblical build-up of meanings and developments for this root . And the Jews were not at risk of making wrong borrowings, as they had excellent knowledge of the Greek language .


  • Proto-Semitic. We lack information from other Semitic languages on which to base a hypothesis for a Proto-Semitic root.


  • Old Prussian is not a Germanic language, as one would think, but Baltic, related to Latvian and Lithuanian.


  • Latin "pax" is an especially agreed or de facto situation of peace and calm. The root has nothing to do with "to tie" or "to pack", but reflects the same meanings we have seen in the Hebrew verb and its two composites. It is seen as related to the verb "pango, pepigi, pactum, pangere", based on the root "P A C", and meaning a .o. "to establish, determine, conclude (f.e. peace)". Further it is considered related to the verb "paciscor, pactus sum", with meanings like "to stipulate (peace) to obtain (peace)".


    There is another verb, that some see as coming from the noun "pax" and that is anyhow a cognate: "paco, pacare", that memans "to satisfy, pay". This is semantically comaparable to the Hebrew root SH L M", that has given the famous word "shalom = peace", but also "shillèm = to make good, satisfy, pay". "Paco, pacare" is also seen as the basis for "paciscor", which is convincing.


    The indication from Latin is anyhow "P A C".


  • Indo-European. It is quite uncertain, but not impossible, that the Greek verb "πηγνυμι, pègnümi", in Doric "παγνυμι, pagnümi " is a cognate. Its messages are those of fixing, establishing, costructing, determining, solidifying", this both litterally and figuratively. Making peace could fit into this, but specific reference fails. Nor is there a related noun with the meaning of "peace". A Greek interjection "pax", says "enough, ready, OK" and has been loaned into Latin as well. It is difficult to ascribe it to the just mentioned verbs.


    A basis of just Latin with Old Prussian is not wide, but Indo-European may have used a form "*P Ā C-".






Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: 21/11/2012 at 14.47.22