E 0795          (TO)  SET

The verb " to set " is of Germanic origin .

H 0954                ת ו ש , ת י ש                 

Concept of root : to set, put in position

Hebrew word


English meanings

ת ו ש , ת י ש

shìt, shot

to set, put, place

Related English words

to set

Comparison between European words and Hebrew




English meanings

Similarity in roots


ת ו ש ,ת י ש

shìt, shot

to set, put, place

sh (i) t

< sh (u) t




to set, put, place

h . st <

s . s t <

s t

Late Greek <

New Greek



to place, put, set

th . t <

(θ) . t




to place, make stand

s . s t <

s t .


to set

to set

s . t



Proto-Semitic *SHIT < *SHOT --- *SĒD Indo-European



This entry is strictly linked to number E 0794 (Hebrew 0941 , "shat" ) . It is useful to also look at entry E 0796 (Hebrew 0952) with a not unsimilar root and in which is referred also to words for " to set ".


The difference we see between Greek and Latin on one side and Germanic and Hebrew on the other side, is that Greek and Latin have united the S and the T into " ST " . The others have a vowel in between . This has to do with the Greek habit of doubling consonants or syllables, a system that is also sometimes practiced in Latin.


But there is also another development, in which the combination " S T .", without in between vowel, but followed by a vowel, has led to a great development of roots and words regarding the concept of a position in many tongues. In English an obvious example is "stand ". Latin "status" has conquered the world of modern languages with its many derivations.



  • Hebrew shows us clearly the way one root with one meaning may take various forms. We see shot, shìt, shat and shatat, all meaning " to set". Usually the original form is the one with O or U in the middle. Sometimes this may develop into a form like " *shawat", a fifth version. Here we have "only" four different ones. From the form "shot" has been developed "shìt" with the change of vowel ( waw becomes yod ) .


    But in another process the Waw or O is eliminated and we remain with "shat" that some may still pronounce "shot". Then when it is just "shat" , with two consonants, people are unhappy and double what is now the second consonant to get "shatat".


  • Proto-Semitic . The combination "SH T" in the sense of "to set, place, put" is found in Phoenician "ש ת , = "to set, place". Ugaritic used the same root for the same meaning. It probably was in use in Proto-Semitic, as earlier "*ש ו ת , SH W T" and later "*ש י ת , SH Y T".


  • Greek has developed this verb "histèmi" from a basic "S T (A)" via a doubling of the initial S, or "sistèmi" . This new S has followed the fate of many initial S’es in Greek, becoming H. Without entering into the complicated reasoning around the birth some 300 years before c.e. of "theto", we remark that it sounds today very much like English "set" : " thet " with the TH of "thin".


  • Latin "sistere" , just like the older Greek form "sistèmi", is due to the doubling of the S. Its sister-word is "stare" for "to stand, stand still". But in Latin the S does not change into H.


  • Proto-Germanic . The English verbs "to set" and "to sit" differ just by the central vowels, of which the "I" indicates an intransitive form and the "E" a transitive or causative form. This phenomenon is wider spread in Germanic languages and touches also other roots. In this case the Nordic languages also have their part, as in Old Norse "sitja" and "setja", and Norwegian "sitte" and "sette", but Swedish and Danish spell the E-sound as in "sätta" and "sætte". In Danish "side" we see a consonant "D" that is a newer development as it was not found in Old Danish.


    For the transitive/causative verb as English "to set", the initial consonant is in older and newer tongues "S", that then in German is pronounced and in Dutch is also spelled "Z": "zetten". The second consonant is "T", with the specific but casual exception of German "setzen" ( as "sitzen = to sit") after Old High German "sezzen" with "sizzen"). Proto-Germanic probably has a causative "*S E T-", with the active "*S I T-".


  • Indo-European For the concepts that in English are expressed by "to sit, to set, seat", some main elements of the picture are the following.


    Old Indian offers "sádati = to sit", with a causative "sādayati", "sádas = seat" and "sáttar- = sitting down". The resulting "S A D-" may have an origin in "*S E D-".


    Avestan has in some forms changed from " S " to " H ", a phenomenon very common in Greek. "had- = to sit down" and hiðaiti = he sits". But "to set" = niyashadayam


    Greek "εζομαι‛, hezomai = to sit, to sit down" εδος‛, hedos = seat". Both come from an original basis "*S E D-".


    Latin "sedeo, sedēre = to sit", "sido, sedi, sessum = to sit down, settle". The message is "*S E D-".


    Germanic Proto-Germanic had "*S E T-, S I T-".


    Slavic has a.o. hypotheses of "sēdēti, sedjo, sesti" , with Old Church Slavonic "sędo, sěsti" = to sit (down)" . Russian "сидеть, sidjetj = to sit".


    Baltic with a hypothesis of "*sed-", but also "*sad-" gives Lituanian "sëdu = to sit down" and sedétu = to sit". Then "sodinù = to set".


    Celtic supposedly has the two consonant combination " S . D", using as vowels "A; E; O". Old Irish has "suide for "to sit, seat", with a diphthong " UI " developed out of " Ō ". Cymric "sedd = seat".



    Indo European probably had "*S Ē D-".





Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: 06/12/2012 at 17.56.24