GR 1203          KLEOS

H 0760            ס ל ק

Concept of root : voices and rumour

Hebrew word


English meanings

ס ל ק


to deride; to praise

Related English words


Comparison between European words and Hebrew




English meanings

Similarity in roots


ס ל ק


to deride; to praise

q . l . s




voice, rumour; fame, bad fame

k l . <

*k l s



Proto-Semitic *QALAS --- *KLEWE Indo-European



The basic meaning of the combination of the letters Q and L in this case seems to be the same of entry no E 0138 (Hebrew 0785) for the word "qol" = voice". This can be seen from the first of the meanings of Greek "kleos", that are still neutral as to the content of what is said. The others show content, positive but also negative, in "fame, renown, glory" versus "bad fame, notoriety". This is an interesting phenomenon in older linguistic habits. A root is used to express an in itself neutral action, without specifying in which direction the action goes. In this case "to speak about" may still be a "speak well about" or a "speak badly about". In modern Italian , if a person is defined as "chiacchierato", which is "talked about", everybody understands that people are talking badly about him.


Also in Hebrew we find this double meaning, in that of praising talk and ridiculing talk about someone. In fact there is a third meaning for a root "Q L S", that is "to stamp with one's feet". And some scholars see the other two, "to mock" and "to praise" as having been derived from that stamping of the feet.


Remains the difference, that Hebrew has a third consonant S, that at first sight seems to lack in Greek . So let us look at that:



  • Greek "kleos" normally would have the root "K L" and so seems the case with the related verbs "κλεω, kleo = to call, name " and "κλειω , kleio = to praise". Greek scholars tell us though that "kleio" has been built from *klewes-yo, with an " S " in it, as seen in Hebrew "QALAS". This Greek W has then become an Y or I, a very common development also in Hebrew. And the S has disappeared, something the ancient Greeks liked to make happen now and then.


  • Greek and Hebrew. Independently from the question if Greek had an S like Hebrew, the common origin of the combination of sound and meaning seems obvious.


  • Hebrew in this entry may show us a final S in a three-consonant root, but we see already in entry E 0141 (Hebrew 0755), how also a root with Q and L but without that final S carries a messages of talking about somebody, influencing on his fame and name.



  • Proto-Semitic. We have only limited evidence for a hypothesis. The Ugaritic root "Q L TS" says " to mock", and the root "*ק ל ס , Q L S" may have been in use in Proto-Semitic.


  • Latin has a verb "clueo, cluēre = to be spoken about, named, heard", developed out of an earlier "cluo, cluĕre that has led to the composed word "inclutus = famous".


  • Indo-European. There is a hypothesis of "*K L Ĕ W E-" that may be right, though the "W" may have been also more prominent, used as a vowel, in a "*K L Ū-". Important is not to confound this specific case with all kinds of words meaning "to hear", as so often is done.


    Slavic is especially interesting with a triple hypothesis of "*slāvā= fame, glory", as to *slovō, *slūti = to be called". One notes that the initial " S " in Slavic substitutes in a normal development the " K " from other groups. Old Church Slavonic has "slavljo" and "slaviti" with the message of "to praise". And Russian shows "слава , slawa = fame, reputation, glory". How difficult languages are? Russian ""слово , slowo" means "word" and "слабый , slabŭj" stands for "weak, without strength".


    Baltic, with a series of hypotheses, anyhow has Latvian "slūt = to have the name of..." and Lithuanian "shlove = praise" and "shlāve = glory, fame".


    Tocharian in "kaklyu = famous" has doubled the "K", but there is as well "klyuwontr = is named, spoken about".


    Celtic contributes with Old Irish "cloth = glory" and Cymric "clod = praise"


    Germanic. Limited to German and its predecessors there is a word "Leumund" that stands for "fame", that may be good or bad, though the verb "verleumden" says "to slander". Old High German had "(h)liumunt", in which "-munt" is a suffix for the building of the noun and the first part "hliu" may be related to the other words of this entry.





Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: 22/11/2012 at 11.26.30