🏷  Greek Semitic horse mythical creature pun · symbol   —   by Gerry · Oct 2020 · 1356 words

The unicorn was a medieval symbol that still enjoys great popularity. But as with all other legendary animals, it’s very doubtful that the elites ever believed in it. In Hebrew, the unicorn is called חד קרן ḥd-qrn chad-qeren. But if you change the Ḥet to He, then that word becomes הדקרן h-dqr-n ha-deqer-en for “piercing” & “stabbing”, or even more bluntly: הדכרן h-dkr-n ha-deker-en for “penis”. This explains the strange tales claiming that a unicorn is strong & fierce, but becomes soft & tame in a virgin’s lap, and has to be fenced in. Those smutty spooks!

Unicorn puns in a nutshell

It’s uncertain what language the unicorn was invented in. Since the specific horned-horse unicorns are medieval symbols, I’d suggest it’s some European language. Mythical creatures with horns are plenty though, so there may well be unrelated earlier puns in different languages.

As for the puns:

The number 1 also puns with “Jew” & “leader”. In Hebrew, the horn also puns with “finance” & “power”, and with “like someone else”. It’s thus possible that the unicorn is also a Semitic “hidden ruler” pun at the same time.

Semitic ḥd-qrn for “unicorn”

In the Semitic languages, the unicorn is called חד קרן ḥd-qrn, from ˀḥd “one” and qrn “horn”. Many of the unicorn’s alleged traits seem to be puns with this word, so the Semitic languages is perhaps where they originated.

The Bible also mentions some fierce critter called ראם rˀm, translated as “aurochs” / “rhinoceros” / “unicorn”. But that word has nothing to do wth uni or horn, so it seems the unicorn translation was slapped on later.

Hebrew, Aramaic ḥd = one; qrn = horn; ḥd-qrn = unicorn;

חד ḥd : one — Aramaic (CAL)

אחד ˀḥd : one; singular, unique; closed up, mysterious — Hebrew (Jastrow)

קרן qrn : horn; strength; beam, ray — Hebrew (Jastrow)

חד קרן ḥd qrn : a legendary creature, from the mythology of ancient medieval Europe, with hooves and a single horn on its forehead — Hebrew (Wikt)

יחידאי קרן yḥydˀy qrn : unicorn — Aramaic (CAL)

דחדה קרן dḥdh qrn : one horned animal — Aramaic (CAL)

Semitic ˀḥd-qrn for “possessor of capital”

The spelling of unicorn is very close to ˀḥd-qrn, which means “united capital” & “holding capital”. In fact, it is merely different meanings of the same word roots: ˀḥd / yḥd / ḥd means “one” → “unite” → “concentrate” → “seize” → “possess”. qrn means both “horn” and also “financial capital”, though it’s unclear why. One suggestion is from Akkadian qerenu for “pile”, where a pile would have the protruding shape of a horn.

This “united capital” is likely the explanation for the unicorn in British heraldry, as the founders of medieval Great Britain were likely Roman & Phoenician capitalists, who set up their new headquarters there for unknown reasons, in the way British capitalists later made the USA the new global headquarters. In British heradry, the unicorn is paired with a lion which also puns with “finance”.

This unicorn pun may also explain the financial slang term “unicorn” for private billion startups: These purportedly “independent” startups were really founded by ultra-powerful capital holders. The term “unicorn” may also hint at the fact that the stories of their founders and their founding are just elaborate fairy tales (as with SpaceX and Elon Musk).

Hebrew, Aramaic ˀḥd = hold, posess; qrn = capital

אחד ˀḥd : to hold, take, to catch, to seize; to follow, go after; to receive, to get — Aramaic (CAL)

אחד ˀḥd : to close; to lock up; to seize, capture; locked up; holding; hidden; to seize; to be seized — Hebrew (Jastrow)

אחידה ˀḥydh : taking possession, capture — Hebrew (Jastrow)

קרן qrn : fund, capital, principal (in financial meaning) — Hebrew (Klein)

קרן qrn : horn; fulness, essence; principal, capital — Hebrew (Jastrow)

Semitic ˀḥd-qrnˁ for “veiled ruler”

There is a possible pun of ḥd-qrn “unicorn” with ˀḥd-qrnˁ “veiled ruler”. Both words are not related, and rarely attested: Aramaic ˀḥd / Hebrew ˀḥz means “holding”, and was also used to mean “aristocrat” & “ruler”, abbreviated from “[title] holder”. qrnˁ is Aramaic for “veil”, though it occurs more often in the form qnˁ.

For a full discussion, see number 1 and horn.

Aramaic ˀḥd = hold, ruler; qrnˁ = veil

אחוד ˀḥwd : holder; one who takes, who holds tight; ruler — Aramaic (CAL)

קורנעתא ; קורנעה qwrnˁh; qwrnˁtˀ : large veil — Aramaic (CAL)

Semitic h-dkr-n for “piercer” & “penis”

The unicorn is said to pierce people, and in Semitic the word ḥd-qrn for “unicorn” does indeed pun with h-dqr-n which would mean “piercer”. The H is a causative prefix, and the N is an agent suffix. The underlying root is dqr for “piercing”.

This root is also very close to Aramaic dkr (Hebrew zkr), which means “penis”. This fits strangely well with those tales where the unicorn is strong & fierce, but changes into being soft & tame whenever it can rest its head in a virgin’s lap. After the unicorn has been “captured” by the virgin in this manner, it can then be properly fenced in. It’s a smutty pun by the Semitic-speaking spooks! So much for chastity behind the scenes in the medieval ages.

Since the unicorn as a one-horned horse doesn’t appear in ancient Semitic-speaking cultures though, the critter itself was probably invented elsewhere, perhaps from another pun.

Aramaic, Arabic dkr, ḏkr = male, penis

דכר dkr : male; ram; Aries; penis — Aramaic (CAL)

ذَكَر ḏkr ḏakar : penis — Arabic (Wikt)

דכר dkr : marked; male, man; the male of the flock, ram — Hebrew (Jastrow)

Hebrew dqr = pierce, stab, bore, prick

דקר dqr : to pierce; he pierced, stabbed; pungent; pierced, stabbed — Hebrew (Klein)

דקר dqr : to dig, bore, pierce; to spread, branch off; to be pierced, stabbed — Hebrew (Jastrow)

דקרר dqrr : to prick; pricked — Hebrew (Klein)

דקרור dqrwr : pricking — Hebrew (Klein)

Greek hippo-keratos as pun with hypo-krites

The Greek name for the unicorn is monokeros for “one horn”. However, the animal is actually a “horned _horse_”, which would be hippo-keratos, a near perfect pun with hypo-krites for “pretender”. The only argument that this isn’t the intended pun is that the unicorn was not a popular symbol in classical Greek times. Perhaps the pun would’ve been too obvious.

The Greek name mono-keros still puns with mune for “pretence”, and chreios for “poverty”, so it could hint at the ultra-rich folk pretending to be poor. Many other horn puns are possible.

Greek hippo = horse; keratos = horn; hypo-krites = pretender, hypocrite; mone = one; mune = pretence

ἵππω híppō : horse, mare, horsemen (nominative/accusative/vocative dual) — Ancient Greek (Wikt)

κέρατος kératos : horn (genitive) — Ancient Greek (Wikt)

ῠ̔ποκρῐτής hupokritḗs : interpreter, expounder; stage actor; pretender, dissembler, hypocrite — Ancient Greek (Wikt)

μόνος ; μόνε mónos; móne : alone, forsaken, solitary; only; unique — Ancient Greek (Wikt)

μῡ́νη mū́nē : excuse, pretence, pretext — Ancient Greek (Wikt)

🏷  Greek Semitic horse mythical creature pun · symbol