Is the Greek γάιδαρος a loan from Arabic "gadar"?


Senior Member

I've been searching lately for the etymology of the Modern Greek vernacular name of donkey, γάιδαρος ['ɣaiðaros] (masc.) which comes from the Medieval/Byzantine γαϊδάριον [ɣai'ðarion] (neut.). According to the prevalent scholarly view the name derives from the Arabic noun, gadar (?), gaidar (??) = cruelty, oppression (due to the cruelty and oppression the animal suffers).
Now, not knowing Arabic I cannot either verify or disprove it. Could it indeed be an Arabic loan word into Byzantine Greek?

  • dkarjala

    Senior Member
    English - America
    There is a very obscure word غيذار /ghaydhaar/ meaning donkey but it is not clear where it comes from in Arabic and I'm not sure who borrowed the word from whom after a short research.

    The only related root in Arabic means "to prepare food from milk and flour" and again, this seems secondary to some lost meaning.

    However, the sources I found also said that the related noun غيذرة /ghaydhara/ can mean 'evil', so that might go to the opinion of the Greek scholars. I would have to spend more time for a better answer - hope this helps.

    All in all, there is an Arabic word /ghaydhaar/ (the /dh/ is interdental as in Greek delta) that means donkey - but that doesn't mean anything without more research.
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