Etymology of هوا (air)

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kamyR

Member
persian
Hello
I am curious about etymology of this word because different sources have different etymologies for it.
First I checked "wiktionary.org" for it a few months back and it said that it is from middle Persian hu-way (good current) and Arabic borrowed it from Iranian.
MacKenzie dictionary says the word for air in Pahlavi is way (way [w'd = Av. wayu- I P wyw] air, atmosphere•) and with this I think the explanation above would be plausible.
But now the wiktionary.com says it is in fact Arabic and from the root ه و ي‎ (h-w-y), meaning a hole or hollow and the Persian word is borrowed.
In "www.nisanyansozluk.com" it is said that the word is of Persian origin (~ Fa hawā هوا hava, yel, esinti, melodi. Note: Ar hawāˀ "heves, boş arzu" Farsça kaynaklı olmalıdır.).
And in "An Etymological Dictionary of Persian, English and other Indo-European Languages, by Dr. Ali Nourai" it is said that هوا(air) is derived from PIE root "kwes" and it is a cognate of شش(lung) and if this is the case please explain how it is possible.
Thanks in advance
 
  • InfiniteDays

    New Member
    Persian
    Adding an H in front of words is a normal thing that happened in the transition from middle Persian:

    osh -> Hush ech -> hich

    The academy of Persian language has made new compound words using هوا:

    Havapeyma instead of tayyara طیاره (I'm not sure if this the word that is used in Arabic , but it's the word that was used in Persian until 50 years ago)

    havanavard instead of Astronaut (آسترونات)

    It could be Arabic, but 3 out of the 4 sources you listed said it's Persian. I couldn't find any credible source that stated whether Arabic borrowed it or not. Maybe they look similar accidentally, or maybe it's Persian pronunciation is influenced by Arabic.
     

    kamyR

    Member
    persian
    هواء in Arabic dictionaries is defined as emptiness (see also this verse for example: Surah Ibrahim [14:43] ).
    Thanks. Do you know how long has this word been used with the meaning "air". Because based on the things I've learned the word جَوّ is used when speaking about the air (or at least weather) but I can be mistaking of course.
     

    kamyR

    Member
    persian
    Adding an H in front of words is a normal thing that happened in the transition from middle Persian:

    osh -> Hush ech -> hich

    The academy of Persian language has made new compound words using هوا:

    Havapeyma instead of tayyara طیاره (I'm not sure if this the word that is used in Arabic , but it's the word that was used in Persian until 50 years ago)

    havanavard instead of Astronaut (آسترونات)

    It could be Arabic, but 3 out of the 4 sources you listed said it's Persian. I couldn't find any credible source that stated whether Arabic borrowed it or not. Maybe they look similar accidentally, or maybe it's Persian pronunciation is influenced by Arabic.
    That's my guess too but I want to be sure
     

    PersoLatin

    Senior Member
    UK
    Persian - Iran
    According to MacKenzie Pahalavi dictionary:
    "way" = air, atmosphere
    "andarwāy" = air, atmosphere and "andarwāyig" = atmospheric, of the air.
    "wāy" = bird
    "wāyidan" = blow (of wind)

    The /w's/ at the start of some have changed to /b/ in NP e.g. "wāyidan" to bād/wind

    I believe these are cognates with 'wind', 'vent' etc.
     

    momai

    Senior Member
    Arabic - Syria
    Thanks. Do you know how long has this word been used with the meaning "air". Because based on the things I've learned the word جَوّ is used when speaking about the air (or at least weather) but I can be mistaking of course.
    I can't tell you for sure when it started to obtain this meaning, but it is already mentioned in Lisaan Al-Arab dictionary by Ibn Manzur who lived during the Abbasid time (which however is the time with the most number of Persian words entering the Arabic language). Anyway the Arabic explanation (which could be completely wrong) for this word is that it is from (h-w-y) to fall -> the space that falls(exists) between two things but also love (just think of fall in love).
    جو on the other hand means the inside -> between sky and earth
     
    Last edited:

    kamyR

    Member
    persian
    I can't tell you for sure when it started to obtain this meaning, but it is already mentioned in Lisaan Al-Arab dictionary by Ibn Manzur who lived during the Abbasid time (which however is the time with the most number of Persian words entering the Arabic language). Anyway the Arabic explanation (which could be completely wrong) for this word is that it is from (h-w-y) to fall -> the space that falls(exists) between two things but also love (just think of fall in love).
    جو on the other hand means the inside -> between sky and earth
    Thank you and thanks to all for responding
     

    Abu Rashid

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    The root also exists in Hebrew הָוָה although with the meaning of fall, be, exist, happen. But that's not so different from the Arabic meaning. Seems more likely to be Semitic than Indo-Iranian.
     

    Aliph

    Senior Member
    Italian (North)
    According to the Arabic Etymological Dictionary of Andras Rajki (2005)
    Hawa has a semitical root h-w-y

    hawa: air, atmosphere
    [Sem h-w-y, Amh hewa] Aze hava, Hin hava, Ind hawa, Kyr awa, Per hawa, Swa hewa, Taj havo, Tat khava, Tur hava
     

    Aaa003

    New Member
    English
    I can't tell you for sure when it started to obtain this meaning, but it is already mentioned in Lisaan Al-Arab dictionary by Ibn Manzur who lived during the Abbasid time (which however is the time with the most number of Persian words entering the Arabic language). Anyway the Arabic explanation (which could be completely wrong) for this word is that it is from (h-w-y) to fall -> the space that falls(exists) between two things but also love (just think of fall in love).
    جو on the other hand means the inside -> between sky and earth
    So what you are saying here is that the original meaning of this word meant “emptiness” or “void” but in modern day the word has completely changed to mean “air”? I’ve seen dictionaries that say it can mean either air or void depending on the context.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    The root also exists in Hebrew הָוָה although with the meaning of fall, be, exist, happen. But that's not so different from the Arabic meaning. Seems more likely to be Semitic than Indo-Iranian.
    It seems the only question is if هواء really comes from h-w-y or it's a simple coincidence of sorts and it's a loan.
     

    Aaa003

    New Member
    English
    هواء in Arabic dictionaries is defined as emptiness (see also this verse for example: Surah Ibrahim [14:43] ).
    By saying this, are you suggesting that “emptiness” may have been the original meaning of the word before it evolved, Or are you only using this definition as an example of how it relates to air as a secondary definition?
     

    Aaa003

    New Member
    English
    By saying this, are you suggesting that “emptiness” may have been the original meaning of the word before it evolved, Or are you only using this definition as an example of how it relates to air as a secondary definition?
    I can't tell you for sure when it started to obtain this meaning, but it is already mentioned in Lisaan Al-Arab dictionary by Ibn Manzur who lived during the Abbasid time (which however is the time with the most number of Persian words entering the Arabic language). Anyway the Arabic explanation (which could be completely wrong) for this word is that it is from (h-w-y) to fall -> the space that falls(exists) between two things but also love (just think of fall in love).
    جو on the other hand means the inside -> between sky and earth
    Sorry, last question, what is the source the arabic explanation for this word?
     
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