E 0517          LAD,  CHILD

The words " lad " and " child " are of Germanic origin .

H 1030            ד ה ל; ו ל ד                     

Concept of root : young one, child

 Hebrew word


English meanings

; ו ל ד

ד ה ל





Related English words


Comparison between European words and Hebrew




English meanings

Similarity in roots


ד ל ו

ד ה ל

walad ;


child ;


w . l . d <

l . d


lad ;


lad ;


l . d ;

tsh . l d



Proto-Semitic *WALAD, *LEDÀ --- *LAD English



This word walad with the Waw as a first consonant, has continued to exist together with its successor yalad that has absorbed most of its meanings. This successor is seen in entry E 0518 (Hebrew 1050) . Already in the Bible "walad" was practically limited to the meaning of "child". In modern language it expresses : "child, born one, son, cub ".


Our supposition is that there has been a basic root "* L . D " in Hebrew, the same that is found in that special English word "lad". That same root also has led to the specific English word "child" . Looking at Hebrew :


  • Hebrew clearly shows that old root " L . D " in the noun for "birth" and "birthgiving" , that is " ל ד ה, lédà" . In the absence of a habit of abbreviations as modern languages love so much, this shows that "walad" had received a prefix or new first consonant " W ".


    This prefix " W " must have carried a meaning, and one may suppose that it made the new word " Wa + LaD" as "is + born". Other suppositions, less probable, might be "what + born", or perhaps " and + born ", anyhow " the "child".


  • Proto-Semitic This root is found in Aramaic " ו ל ד, welad" and " ו ל ד א, waled'à". Ugaritic uses the same root for the same meaning. Arabic has "walad" and Ethiopian "wal(a)d". All these words say "child". This root was probably in use in Proto-Semitic: "* ו ל ד , W L D".


    The older and shorter root "L . D" presumably was also used in Proto-Semitic "* ל ד , L D". A cognate is seen in Akkadian "littu = child" and "talittu = offspring".


  • English and Proto-Germanic. Not much is clear about the etymology of "lad" and "child". Not even from which language group they have originated. Though they seem non-existent in other tongues, we suppose they are of Germanic origin, because "lad" has a feminine form that is "lass" and this could be a contraction of "*ladess", with a suffix "-ess" for the feminine version.


    Meanings like "serving-man, young fellow" should not inmdicate original meanings, but are normal developments in practical use, of the same kind seen with words like "boy, fellow, child" etcetera.


    "Child", in Old English "cild", probably still pronounced "kild", in a supposition of cognateship with "lad", would have had a very improbable K-sound added as a prefix. The plural is "cildru, cildra" in respectively the nominative and genitive cases.


    There is an open question to what extent and in which way "child" may be related to the German word "Kind = child". Both use a plural with an R, in the case of "children", Old English "cildru", Dutch " kinderen " and German " Kinder ". True, such plurals are not fully uncommon outside English, but still rare. And this similarity is a strong indication towards a common base.


    In the Nordic tongues the normal word for child is "barn", or "a born one". But Old Norse still had also the word "kind" for "child", also saying "descendant, offspring".


    English "kind", noun and adjective, is presumably in origin the same word. In Old English "cynd" its meanings are quite a few, clearly related around he concept of "birth, offspring": "origin, generation, birth, offspring, gender, species". One might think of the difference between "cild" and "cynd" as due to a diversification, useful on account of the too wide range of meanings of the original "cynd". But on the other hand we see an important indication from Gothic that has "kilðei = womb", with "inkilðo = pregnant". Swedish and Norwegian "kull = the young ones (together), litter" and should have an origin related with the Gothic word. This points to a possibility that "cild" and "cynd", both Old English, are in fact not related at all!


    Further there are words, that presumably are related to "kind". Icelandic like Old Norse has "kundr" for "son, descendant", that then belongs to the group of "kind".


    One has to ask if and where a link to "lad" can be seen. Norwegian has a word "askeladd = neglected child", in which "ask = ash" and "ladd = child", a bit like "cinderella". On account of this Norwegian word, not documented in Old Norse, some believe that the words "lad" and "lass" are loanwords from Nordic, but that is a too far going conclusion. Middle Dutch had "lade" for "sprout, twig", like a botanic offspring.


    As a conclusion there is no easy presumption for "child" being related either to "kind" or to "lad".


    The comparison has to stay between Semitic "ledà, walad" and English "lad, lass".





Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: 15/12/2012 at 11.35.46