E 0102          BOAR

The word " boar " is of Germanic origin .

H 0706            א ר פ

Concept of root : wild animals

Hebrew word


English meanings

א ר פ


to live in the wild

Related English words

boar; pork

Comparison between European words and Hebrew




English meanings

Similarity in roots


א ר פ


to live in the wild

p . r (‘)


verres; aper;







 tame swine

v . r ;

p r ;

p . r c


boar, farrow



b . r

f . r .

Old English



b . r

Old English





tame swine; young pig

f . rh



varken ;






tame swine;

wild swine

b . r ;

v . rk ;

( .) v . r






wild swine;

(young) pig

. b . r ;
f . rk .



Proto-Semitic *PAR'À --- *PĂR- Indo-European



This entry is related to E 0071 (Hebrew 0261) , that also refers to the animal "boar".


In entry E 0330 (Hebrew 0704) , we refer also to different developments regarding wildness and names for animals, based on the root "P R" with its variations like "B R" and "V R". This actual one deals in particular with swines. They were one of the main groups of bigger animals living in the wild in old times, in a relation of hunt and conflict with humans. In Europe, swines and bears could share the title of "The One Who Lives in the Wild".



  • Hebrew. In the Jewish society the swine has not acquired any real importance, as it is an impure animal. Therefore there was no need for diversifications and different names. Nor was it necessary to give it the title of "one living in the wild", that became reserved for other animals. Wild swines and later tame swines as found with other people, were and are called " ח ז י ר , ghazir ". This word seems to be rather isolated, but finds a possible kin in Greek, as seen in entry GR 1198 (Hebrew 0474 ) .


  • Proto-Semitic is supposed to have had the same root one sees in Hebrew "*פ ר א , P R Aleph". It is found both in Arabic and Akkadian, where it is used to indicate another typically wild animal, the onager, a fascinating wild ass . This last word, onager, is not Semitic and it comes from Greek "οναγρος , onagros, a contraction of onos agrios = wild ass". "Onos" is an old word, used in Mycenaean.


  • Greek has the word "πορκος , porkos = swine. Perhaps because this is so similar to Latin, some scholars have a special reasoning : according to them this word existed in Greek, where it meant an "unknown animal". Later the meaning of Latin "porcus = swine" was then applied to that so similar Greek word. It sounds odd, and anyway other scholars see Greek "porkos = swine" simply as original Greek.


  • Latin "verres" is explained as bearing the message of "male", linking it to Greek "αρρην , arrèn" with that meaning. The suppoition is that an initial W has disappeared from this Greek word, which is a common thing to happen. But Greek scholars tell it differently: "arrèn" has absorbed into double RR the RS in "αρσην , arsèn" the more common word for "male". We better stick to the link to wildlife.


    Very interesting is that Latin for "boar" in "aper" also has a version with a neutral initial vowel "A", in which the "P R" is like the Hebrew and Semitic root "P R". This Latin word has its cognates or rather sisters in Umbrian : apruf, abrof".


  • Latin and Germanic have added a guttural to the root "P R", apparently to indicate that the animal had been domesticated. German "ferkel" also has an L for diminutive added to indicate a young pig.


  • Germanic to name wild swines, has also words beginning with a vowel, as would be Aleph in Hebrew. We see German "Eber" and Dutch "ever". Also Hebrew has a name for an animal that has a vowel in front of "P R", introduced by an Ayin and using a vowel "O" : " ע פ ר, ophèr", and it means "fawn", another of those most common wild animals in Israel, be it of a quite different aspect from swines. One should not wonder that in Europe such an important animal as the swine has called for a diversification of words.
  • English "boar" , with Old English "bar" that is very near Hebrew in sound , Old High German "ber" and Dutch "beer" live without an etymological explanation. The probability is that it says "the wild one". Wild boars are among the most impressive animals in their encounter with humans and certainly dangerous. Perhaps it has been hard to link the two similar names for such different animals as a "bear" and a "boar" to a common origin, but the similarity with Hebrew points that way.


  • Proto-Germanic The German word "Ferkel" is a diminutive, as the final "L" expresses. The sister words of German "Eber" and Dutch "ever" are found in older Germanic languages only. Old High German "ebur" and Middle High German "eber" have a "B", Old English "eofor, efor, eofor,ofor, eafor" all have an "F" and Old Saxon "evur", Dutch, Middle Dutch and Middle Low German have "ever" with a "V". Proto-Germanic probably had "*E B E R".


    Besides this a lengthened root has been developed, with the addition of a final "K", but also changing the initial "B" into an "F": "F Ĕ RK-". It is not clear why, but the final "K" seems to distinguish tamed swines from wild ones.


    The Germanic language Lombardic , spoken in Italy around the 7th Century, used for "boar" the word "pair", with the consonants "P . R" !


  • Indo-European. Balto-Slavic. Old Church Slavonic has a prefix "Ve" in "veprj", continued in Russian " веррת, veprj = wild boar", with sister words in other Slavic tongues and Latvian "vepris", which indicates a Balto-Slavic "*VE PR-". The function of the prefix "ve" seems a confirming one.The vowel between the consonants "P" and "R" has been absorbed.


    There is though another group in Baltic, with Old Prussian "parstian = (young) swine", Lithuanian "parshas = castrated swine" and "parshelis = (young) pig", to which probably may be added in Slavic : Old Bulgarian, Chech and Serbian "prase = pig", as well as Russian "поросенок, poroshonok = (young) pig". This indicates a Balto-Slavic without prefix, with "A": "P Ă R-".


    But then Russian still has, again without that prefix, the word "боров, borov = boar". This word is very interesting , as it is based on "бор , bor = pinewood", the typical wild environment where in Eastern Europe large animals could be found. Then we also note the word "боровой, borovoy = growing in a pinewood". Further a pine-mushroom is called a "боровик, borovik = pine-mushroom" . And do boars eat them! This brings us very near our original supposition, in which the "boar" and the "bear" have received their "titles" as "those who live in the wild".


    It also shows that besides the mentioned Balto-Slavic "*VE PR-" there probably were two forms without prefix, "B Ō R-" and P Ă R-.


    Celtic with Gallic "orco-" and Middle Irish "orc = young swine", may be related and would in that case have abolished as often the initial labial " P ".


    Indo-European, on the basis of the mentioned information, may have had "*B Ē R-", though a "P Ă R-" is very probable, while also a "B Ă R-" and even "P Ē R-" are possible. In Indo European there may have been a tendency towards differentiation ,opting for a vowel "E" for swines and a vowel "A" for bovines. But such a choice, if it has existed, has not been followed to the end if we see for example Dutch "varken = pig". The (re-)introduction of a vowel " Ă " or as in Latin "Ŏ" may be connected to the extension of the root with a final K-sound, used to diversify towards tamed swines.


    Anyhow the complicated picture indicates that on the basis of old roots "*P . R" and "*B . R" that indicated, both in Semitic and in Indo-European, various types of wild grounds, names were given to important animals living there, again both in Semitic and Indo-European. Latin, Greek and Balto-Slavic used the same original roots to create a general name for "wild animal", Germanic and Hebrew , but also Latin and others, used those roots in the names of specific animals.






Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: 19/11/2012 at 10.41.58