Important, simply important

Discussion in 'All Languages' started by ThomasK, Apr 16, 2012.

  1. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Gavril's question made me wonder about how you translate important. Do you have a simple word, or do you use some kind of metaphor, or expressions?

    English/ French important seem to refer to bearing, i.e., being significant, so I thought, but at etymonline I read that it refers to Lat. importare, bringing in. I do not see a reference to bearing...

    German : wichtig, referring to weight (weighty) - in Dutch: gewichtig.

    - belangrijk, rijk, rich, in belang, importance - which seems to refer to reaching, stretching[for] something (verb: het belangt mij aan - it reaches me, has an effect on me). You can recognize lang, long.
    - (expression) van tel zijn : to be counted in (tellen)

    (I think the word itself has become... important, whereas I wonder whether languages have expressed that concept (?) in a separate word from the beginning. I think it was not used in my dialect, though I can't seem to fnd ways for how we say that then.)
  2. mataripis

    mataripis Senior Member

    In Tagalog, Important is "Mahalaga" while in Pilipino(whole archipelago), it is Importante(from espanyol). 1.)With significance= May kahalagahan or May saysay,2.) can be counted= mabibilang/maaring maibilang. If you want to say = It is simply important, " May saysay " or "May kahalagahan" can support the meaning of this word.
  3. apmoy70

    apmoy70 Senior Member

    In Greek:

    1/ Adj. «σημαντικός, -κή, -κό» /simandi'kos simandi'ci simandi'ko/ (masc. fem. neut.) from the Classical adj. «σημαντικός, -κὴ, -κόν» (sēmăntī'kŏs, masc./sēmăntī'kē, fem./sēmăntī'kŏn, neut.)--> significant; a derivation from the Classical verb «σημαίνω» (sē'mænō) lit. to show by sign, signify with obscure etymology.
    2/ Adj. «σπουδαίος, -α, -ο» /spu'ðeos spu'ðea spu'ðeo/ (masc. fem. neut.) from the Classical adj. «σπουδαῖος, -α, -ον» (spou'dǣŏs, masc./spou'dǣă, fem./spou'dǣŏn, neut.)-> lit. in haste, quick, metaph. (for persons) earnest, serious, excellent. The adj. derives from the Classical feminine noun «σπουδὴ» (spou'dē), /spu'ði/ in Modern Greek, which lit. means haste, speed but for a person, esteem, regard. PIE base *(s)p(h)eud-, to make haste, be forced to; cognate with Lith. spudà, pressure, push; Alb. punë, work
  4. 涼宮

    涼宮 Senior Member

    Sbaeneg/Castellano (Venezuela)

    In Japanese there are several ways to say ''important''. Nothing to be surprised of, eh? :D

    1) 重要 juuyou weight + need/essence
    2) 大切 taisetsu big + cut
    3) 大事 daiji big + thing/fact
    4) 意義深い igibukai desire/mind/idea + righteousness/meaning + deep (This one mainly means when the important thing has a sort of deep meaning for somebody. A wedding can be described as igibukai, to say something like ''important ceremony)
    5) 重い omoi (this mainly means heavy, but sometimes can mean important)
    6) 重大 juudai (synonym of 5. Lit: weight + big)
    7) 緊要 kinyou tense*/solid/tight + need/essence (this is used when the important thing is urgent or vital)

    *tense in the sense of nervousness
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2012
  5. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Quite interesting, especially the link with weight, need/ urgency or size! Big + cut: decisive ?
  6. tFighterPilot Senior Member

    Israel - Hebrew
    The common word for important is חשוב Ḥashuv, which I guess comes from "something that someone thought of" (Ḥashav means "[he] thought"). There's also another adjective which is less common and related to weight which is כבד משקל Kvad Mishkal which literally means "of heavy weight".
  7. Perseas Senior Member

    Besides apmoy70's excellent and thorough reply, I 'd like to add something in relation to the content of my quote. In Greek we can use the words "(ειδικό) βάρος" /(iði'ko) 'varos/ or "βαρύτητα" /va'ritita/ , lit. meaning "(specific) weight" and "gravity" respectively, to express the concept of importance metaphorically.

    a.Είναι ένας πολιτικός με μεγάλο ειδικό βάρος --> He's a very important politician.
    b.Η γνώμη σου έχει μεγάλη βαρύτητα για μένα. --> Your opinion is very important to me
  8. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    The same 'baros' as in 'barometer', I guess... Weight again !
  9. Perseas Senior Member

    Yes, exactly.
    βάρος > βαρόμετρο (barometer)> βαρομετρικό (barometric)
  10. rusita preciosa

    rusita preciosa Modus forendi

    USA (Φιλαδέλφεια)
    Russian (Moscow)
    In Russian it is вaжнo /vazhno/. The etymological dictionary says it is a a cognate of the German Wage (scale) that came into Russian through Polish ważny(sp?).
  11. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    So my hypothesis that 'important' was not a 'separate concept' seems confirmed. If I am right in interpreting the etymological information I get, the Dutch word belangrijk turns up in 1785 only, but the word belang, interest (e.g. business interest), on which our belangrijk is based, is first found in texts in 1260 already. Or am I jumping to conclusions, do you think?

    Perseas's contribution regarding /baros/ reminded me of the fact that we also use groot, great, to such people. That seems to refer to tallness (though in some figurative sense). I suppose big can also refer to importance in English, but there it implies weight mainly, I guess...
  12. francisgranada Senior Member


    fontos (from font=pound, a weight unit)
  13. AquisM Senior Member

    Hong Kong
    Chinese: (as always, these are only the most common ones used and probably do not represent all of the words/phrases that can mean important)

    重要 (Mandarin: zhongyao/Cantonese: zung yiu) - lit. heavy need
    要紧/要緊 (Mandarin: yaojin) - order reversed in Cantonese 緊要/紧要 (gan yiu) - lit. pressing/tight need
  14. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    I found some more in English: weighty, momentous (which is support to refer to time, though...), material and of course there is also great. I also bumped into chief, capital and principal. They belong here too, I believe, and refer to 'head' and 'first' of course... Maybe I could add formal, solemn, whereas these refer to the form that suggests importance.

    I also looked at Swedish and recognized some words:
    - högtidlich: high-time
    - väsentlich: essential (Wesen, väsen = essence)
    Last edited: May 31, 2014
  15. porkkanaraaste Member

    Finnish: tärkeä, front-vowel variant of dialectal tarkea, related to tarkka 'accurate'. The dialectal tarkea has meanings such as important, hard, hurry. Painava 'heavy' is used metaphorically.
  16. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    The link with 'accurate' seems new to me (when talking about importance), but of course if there is a link with 'urgent' (suggested by to hurry in your explanation), then that would be less new. 'Hard' is not related with 'heavy' is, as 'heavy' is often associated with 'importance'.

    I suddenly thought of how high the number of associations with 'importance' are. I am surprised. I wonder if the concept itself is in some way 'newer' in some way, as it seems more abstract than words like 'heavy', etc. I thought of 'vital', Dutch 'levensbelangrijk': what is necessary for/... life.
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2014
  17. bibax Senior Member

    Czech (Prague)

    důležitý, verbal prefix do- = in-, ležeti = to lie;

    The Latin analogue would be iniacens (injacent, non-existent). The corresponding verb doležeti is not in use. The nearest verb derived from the same stem is doléhati = to fit closely/tightly, doléhající = fitting tightly (e.g. door).

    Some adjectives with similar meaning:
    vážný (< váha = weight < OHG waga) = serious (cf. Rus.вaжнo, Pol. waźny = important);
    významný = significant;
    stěžejní (< stěžej = cardo, hinge) = cardinal;
    klíčový (< klíč = key) = key-;


    Interestingly there is no simple word meaning important in Latin. Importans is a mere participle of importare. Important could be translated as gravis (= heavy, weighty) or gravis momenti (gen., of heavy momentum, momentous).

    e.g. res gravis momenti = important thing;
  18. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Is it really? That is quite amazing, but that might explain why languages have so many words (use so many metaphors). Just by the way: we also refer to zinvol, meaningful, in Dutch, which is not a perfect equivalent, but...

    The strange thing is that - or at least that one might be tempted to think - there is no such concept in Latin. It does not seem to be essential as such, whereas we seem to need it that
    much, though on the other hand it is vague as well, I suppose, just like 'relevant', which seems to imply that the relevance is only for this person or for this objective...

    Just BTW: the word 'moment' seems to have a very strange origin as well, starting from 'mo[vi]mentum' but having quite some different meanings. In Dutch it only refers to time...
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2014
  19. bibax Senior Member

    Czech (Prague)
    In Czech there is another adjective similarly constructed like důležitý (= important):

    náležitý = due (e.g. "after due consideration", "due diligence");

    Derived from the verb náležeti (verbal prefix na- = on, ležeti = to lie) = to appertain to sb/sth (cf. German zustehen);
    naléhati = to urge sb, to push sb to do sth; naléhavý = urgent, exigent;

    There are tens of words derived from the verbs ležeti, léhati, lehnouti, ložiti (variants of 'to lie, to lie down', PIE root *legh-, cf. German liegen, legen), e.g. předloha (= model, pattern, template, cf. German Vorlage), výloha (= show window cf. German Auslage, in plur. also expenses, costs cf. German die Auslagen), úloha (= task, homework, German (Haus)Aufgabe), etc. Often we do not realize the connection with the verb 'to lie', e.g. příležitost (= opportunity), spolehlivost (= reliability), složitost (= complexity), etc.
  20. irinet

    irinet Senior Member

    I can think that 'problem' may be translated as "ignorantia" or 'important" might be "maximus" ('maximae divitae'), "optimum" or the expression "sine qua non". I can also see 'need' in "fortes fortuna juvat".
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2014
  21. Gavril Senior Member

    English, USA
    Welsh pwysig "important" (pronounced ['puisıg]) < pwys "weight" < Latin pensum
  22. OneStroke Senior Member

    Hong Kong, China
    Chinese - Cantonese (HK)
    I'll add 茲事體大 兹事体大 zī shì tǐ dà (This event's scale is big)
    至關重要 至关重要 zhì guān zhòngyào (very important)
    重如泰山 重如泰山 zhòng rú Tài Shān (As important as the Tai Shan)
    舉足輕重 举足轻重 jǔ zú qīng zhòng (Raising [his] leg is important, used for describing important people/organisations/etc)

    重 (lit. heavy) is the morpheme that means 'important'.

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