E 0297          EON

The word " eon " is of Greek origin .

The Old Saxon word " ēwig " is of Germanic origin .

H 0469            ה י ח

Concept of root : life

Hebrew word


English meanings

ה י ח


to live

Related English words


Comparison between European words and Hebrew




English meanings

Similarity in roots


ה י ח


to live

gh y <
gh. w





h gh y


αιων, root



life; life’s duration

a y w




life’s duration; endless, long time

a . v




e.o . (.o)

Old Saxon



e.w. (.w)

Old High German



long time , eternity

e.w. (.w)


eeuw ;


éw ;


century ;


e.uw. (.uw)



Proto-Semitic *GHAYA < *GHAWA --- *ĒW- Proto-Germanic < *ĀYW- Indo-European




  • Hebrew has two sister-verbs, " ה י ה , haya = to be " and ח י ה , ghaya = to live ".


    Originally these "Y"’s or "yod" were "W"’s or "waw". The sounds were also "HAWA"and "GHAWA". This last word was also the Biblical, thus real, name of "EVE", the mother of all human beings, "She who gives Life". See entry GR 1181 (Hebrew 0463). Out of GHAWA or GHAWWA, the Europeans made EVA, and the English later softened this into EVE.


  • Indo European and Hebrew. The just mentioned development of Hebrew " ghawwa " into a loanword " Eve " is illuminating . We see that also the word for "life > lifetime > long period " shifts from an initial GHA towards "AYW-" in Indo European and later "EW-" in Proto-Germanic .


  • Hebrew . It is important to observe that this verb in its various forms , besides the concept of "to live", also repeatedly expresses "life's duration" and especially the concept of "to continue to live", as found in the European words of this entry :
    ghaya   =  to live , to continue to live , revive, survive
    ghiyya   =  to make live, to revive, maintain alive
    héghéya   =  to preserve alive, revive


  • Proto-Semitic. Proto-Semitic is supposed to have had the same root we see in Hebrew, with a comparable development from "W" to "Y" . In the various languages considerable variations are to be seen.


    Ugaritic had "ח ו י , GH W Y" and also "ח י י , GH Y Y".


    Aramaic and Syriac "ח י ה , GH Y H".


    Phoenician "ח ו א , GH W Aleph".


    and ח ו י , GH W Y".


    Arabic "ח י י , GH Y Y".


    . Ethiopian "ח י ו , GH Y W".


    Hebrew "ח ו ה , GH W H" and "ח י ה , GH Y H".



    It is most probable that Proto-Semitic lived through a development from an older version into the newer one. Such developments may start locally and then become generalized, but that later stage had not yet arrived when the language split in a more significant way. The Hebrew forms are the most convincing ones, also on account of the abovementioned similarity with the words/roots for "to be". Thus probably there were in Proto-Semitic both "*ח ו ה , GH W H" and "*ח י ה , GH Y H", with not doubled " W " and " Y ".


  • Proto-Germanic. Besides the words mentioned in the table there are for "eternal (time)", Gothic "aiws", Old North Franconian "ēwa = long time, eternity", Old Frisian "ēwe = eternity", Old Norse "ævi(n) = lifetime, long time, eternity". Some scholars suppose a Proto-Germanic "*aiwa-" on the basis of Gothic or East Germanic, but West Germanic together with North Germanic may be a better guide, towards a form"*Ē W -".


  • Greek and Latin have been given here as far cousins of Hebrew, not easily recognizable as such . Important is their way of being used , that is from "life" to "duration of life" to "long time".


  • Dutch Etymology in this case may be generally interesting. Therefore we try to elaborate on it. Everybody agrees that "hachje" means "life". It is used in standard expressions where it stands for "life". But no reasonable etymological explanation has been found for this term. There are some other words that seem to be akin. The first couple of these words consists of "hach" and "hachelijk", said to mean "danger" and "dangerous". We are not certain that these are the original meanings. In fact the danger they refer to is not danger in general, but specifically peril for life. For that reason we suppose that our root carried the message "life", and is related to the similar Hebrew root. And as there exist other words to express "life", precisely "leven", on the basis of this special root "H GH" a so-called "pregnant" extra meaning of "danger for life" has developed.


    Another aspect is that "hachje" has the aspect of a diminutive word. Today it is practically used in expressions that say "to lose one’s life". But we believe it is absolutely improbable that the concept of "human life", when it is lost, would be expressed in a diminutive.


    Some say that "hachje" would be a diminutive of "hacht = chunk", related with a verb "hachten= to hack, chop". Thus the expression "to lose one’s hachje" would, with still a second mental jump, really stand for "to lose a piece of meat" >"to lose one’s substance" > "to lose one’s life". No further comment.


    We believe that "hachje", meaning "life" is akin to Hebrew "ghaya" saying "to live". The Y ( in fact written J, but pronounced like Y) is the same we find in the Hebrew root, ant that has been a W before.


    To make the picture complete , some uncertainties . In Middle High German existed another like-sounding word, "hache = young man". And in Frisian there was a praising diminutive "hachje = audacious young man". This kind of using a diminutive is still popular in Dutch. Oddly, it may have been derived from that word for "life". A brave young man in modern Greek , and even since the Middle Ages, is called, with a word that recalls West Germanic "leben, leven, life" : " λεβεντης , lebentès ". But this is purely fortuitous, as Greek scholars say this word comes via Turkish from Italian, from the word "levante", the land "where the sun rises". Levare in Latin says "to raise". It is unclear why somebody from the Middle East in those centuries of war would become an example of virtue in Italy, but whatever, we have no explanation either.





Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: 28/10/2012 at 14.17.24