Semitic word root √kpr

🏷  word root · etymology   —   by Gerry · Sep 2018 · 600 words

The Semitic root √kpr has the basic meaning of cover. The root is present in Hebrew, Aramaic, Arabic, and still used widely in modern languages. Latin coperire and English cover may also be related to it.

Things that cover

Hoarfrost and henna cover. The word for large basin-like bowls may be related as well, but also belong to to the √kpp root.

Hebrew kpr = henna, things that cover

כפור kpwr kephor : hoarfrost — Old Hebrew (Strong)

כפר kpr kopher : henna — Old Hebrew (Strong)

כפור kpwr kephor : bowl, basin — Old Hebrew (Strong)

Egyptian kpr = henna

Henna as kpr is also attested in Egyptian, likely a Semitic loanword.

kpr : henna — Egyptian (TLA)

qwpr : henna — Egyptian (TLA)


Since if you cover something you make it disappear, the root also has the meaning of negation and disbelieving. This is particularly pronounced in Arabic.

Arabic kfr = disbelieve, cover oneself from true belief

كَفَرَ kafara : to disbelieve (in), to close oneself off to; to be ungrateful — Arabic (Wikt)

كَافِر kāfir : infidel; unbeliever — Arabic (Wikt)

Covered animals

There are many words for lion, but this one emphasizes the mane, which covers the male.

Hebrew kpr = lion covered with mane

כפיר kpyr kephir : lion, young lion, village; From kaphar, a village (as covered in by walls); also a young lion (perhaps as covered with a mane) — Old Hebrew (Strong)

כפיר kpyr : young lion; Of uncertain origin; perhaps a derivative of base כפר ᴵ (= to cover), and properly denoting a lion already covered with a mane. — Hebrew (Klein)

Places that cover

Villages were unfortified settlements without a city wall, that spread out and covered a large area with their buildings and fields. This is present in all major Semitic languages. In English you would “settle” an area, a debt or a problem, in the Ancient Semitic languages you “cover” it.

Hebrew kpr = village

כפר kpr kaphar : village — Old Hebrew (Strong)

כפר kpr kophar : village — Old Hebrew (Strong)

Arabic kfr = village

كَفْر kfr kafr : open, town, village, suburb — Arabic (Wikt)

Aramaic kpr = village

ܟܦܪܐ kpr : village, tomb — Aramaic (CAL)

ܟܦܪ̈ܘܢܐ kprwnˀ : little town — Aramaic (CAL)

Akkadian kpr = village

𒅗𒀊𒊒 kapru : farm, village; a settlement outside of a city — Akkadian (Wikt)

Ugaritic kpr = village

𐎋𐎔𐎗 kpr : village — Ugaritic (Wikt)


To smear something with pitch covers it and makes it disappear. This is present in all major Semitic languages.

Hebrew kpr = pitch, cover in pitch

כפר kpr kopher : pitch — Old Hebrew (Strong)

כפר kpr kaphar : cover with pitch — Old Hebrew (Strong)

Arabic kfr = pitch

كُفْر kfr kufr : pitch, tar — Arabic (Wikt)

Aramaic pkr = pitch

ܭܽܘܦܪܳܐ‎ kwprˀ kūp̄rā : pitch, tar; asphalt — Aramaic (Wikt)

Akkadian kpr = smear onto

𒅗𒉺𒊒 kapāru : to smear or daub on — Akkadian (Wikt)

Actions that cover

Repentance, appeasement and ransom money cover a previous problem, which would be translated in English as “settling”, as with the villages.

Hebrew kpr = cover, hide, actions that cover something

כפר kpr kaphar : to cover over (figurative), pacify, make propitiation — Old Hebrew (Strong)

כפר kpr kopher : bribe, ransom — Old Hebrew (Strong)

כפר kpr kippur : atonement — Old Hebrew (Strong)

כפרת kprt kapporet : propitiatory — Old Hebrew (Strong)

כיפר kypr kiper : to cover; to pardon sin, forgive; to obtain forgiveness; to expiate an offense; to make expiation for an offender, to free from charge; to appease one who has been injured, e.g. by paying a fee — Hebrew (Wikt)

Arabic kfr = cover, hide, actions that cover something

كَفَرَ kafara : to cover, hide — Arabic (Wikt)

كَفَّرَ kaffara : to cover, hide; to expiate, do penance, atone; to forgive, grant pardon; to make an infidel, seduce to unbelief; to accuse of infidelity, charge with unbelief — Arabic (Wikt)

🏷  word root · etymology