E 0824          SIGN

The word " sign " is , via Old French, of Latinorigin .

H 1024            ן ו י צ ; ן י צ                     

Concept of root : sign

 Hebrew word


English meanings

; ן י צ

ן ו י צ

tsičn ;


to signal;

roadsign, monument

Related English words


Comparison between European words and Hebrew




English meanings

Similarity in roots


;ן י צ

ן ו י צ ;



to signal ; roadsign, monument

ts . y . n




s (i) g n


seinen ;


seinen ;


to signal; sign

s . (i) n



Hebrew "TSIEN < Proto-Semitic *TSEWON --- *SĒN- Proto-Germanic < *SĒN- Indo-European



This entry is related to entry E 0823 (Hebrew 0874), that deals with the same concept. The roots are not identical, but can be seen as having a farther common origin. For that reason the English word has been inserted here as well as in E 0823 (Hebrew 0874).



  • Hebrew. The roadsign that is a " tsiun " in Biblical times usually was a particular stone or other landmark . But the word is also used to indicate the particular kind of "sign" that is a monument .


  • Proto-Semitic There are the words Syriac " צ ו י א, tsewayŕ = signpost, landmark " and Arabic "tsuwwah", also indicating a landmark, in old times consisting of a heap of stones. The basis for a hypothesis is rather narrow, but Proto-Semitic may have had "* צ ו א, TS W Aleph", a basis that with the addition of a final "N" gave a noun for "sign". Our comparison is hypothetical , with the vowels " E " and " O ", that may have been used in Proto-Semitic.


  • Dutch. These words existed in Middle Dutch, but were not of very frequent use. Perhaps for that reason they are supposed to be a contraction of "segen" and "segenen", that were used to indicate "making the sign of the cross". But the words "segen(en)" have gone on quietly into modern language, parallel with "sein(en)", each with its own message.


    It is not surprising that some scholars had the idea that "sein" was a contraction of "segen", as in fact for English "seine", a kind of dragnet, Middle Dutch had both "sein" and "segen". These were important words, as the use of this kind of nets was severely regulated already in 16th century Holland.


    In Middle Dutch for "to signal" there was as well the verb "senen" without the " I ", with identical meaning. In fact, the general opinion is divided between two theories. One we just mentioned and the other says thjat "sein" comes, via English or directly, from Old French "seign", a development out of Latin "signum". But in French the heirs of "signum" are "signe" and "signal". The word "sein" with vowel "EI" is typically Germanic, with the "EI" commonly developed out of a long "Ē". The same vowel found in Middle Dutch "sēnen = to signal".


  • Proto-Germanic. The word "sein" that carries this similarity with Hebrew, is found today only in Dutch among the Germanic languages. But as stated in the previous Note on Dutch, it may have existed in older Germanic, contributing to Old French. So there is some reason to support a hypothesis for Proto-Germanic: "*S Ē N-.


  • Latin. The word "signum" has been explained as "*sec-nom", of which the first part would then be that of the verb "secare = to cut". But the meanings of Latin "sign-" are much more wide-ranging, from any kind of technical "sign" to "password", "banner" and the "stars in heaven". And indeed there is a different opinion, that sees a "Q" as added to "sein", becoming then "seing-" and from there "sign-". This would confirm similarity of Latin with Germanic words.


    But in fact Latin has a verb "signo, signare" for " to mark, sign" plus figurative meanings. The root is the same as that of "signum". Important is that in Old Latin the consonant " G " was not present in the verb : "sinno"! Thus the indication from Latin is not "SIGN-" but "SINN-".


  • Indo-European. Old Irish had the word "s ē n = sign". As usual, this is seen as derived from Latin "signum", though it is not at all clear how this might have come about. We rather would observe the similarity with Middle Dutch "sēnen = to signal", that undoubtedly had a sisterword as noun, "*sēn". On the basis of the information from the Note on Latin the two consonant combination " S . N" is probable. This means that Indo-European may have had a form similar to Proto-Germanic, with the used vowel to be defined. This may have been a long "Ē" but also a "Ī". In our comparison we use "*S Ē N-". A little push this way comes from the basic word part "SĒN" in "sēnsus = the watching, perception, observation" and the verb "sentio, sēnsī, sentire = to perceive, observe" and then also "to sense, feel".





Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: 14/12/2012 at 16.57.26