ked- = To go, yield.

How does 'to go' relate to 'to yield'? Both verbs appear to differ in meaning.

Moreover, what precisely does 'to go' mean here? Is this the right diction?
I'm confused, because most verbs deriving from this PIE root concern either a submissive 'yield' or hindered progress (eg cede), neither of which equates to 'to go' somewhere.

  • If you're fighting for your life with somebody (which is a special but not unknown event, for humans) and you want to yield (also not unknown), what do you do? Stick around and depend on the person trying to kill you, or get the hell out and save your life?
    – jlawler
    Commented May 22, 2015 at 15:23
  • @jlawler Thanks. 1\. How did you think of this analogy, to help explain the above? If only I could, I would be more efficient with etymology.
    – user5306
    Commented May 22, 2015 at 18:51
  • 2\. But your analogy does not necessarily entail 100% submission (or yielding)? Even if you wanted to yield to an attacker, you may need to weaken it by wounding it, before you can escape? One's defense doesn't resemble submission (or yielding) to me?
    – user5306
    Commented May 22, 2015 at 18:53
  • Nothing ever entails 100% of anything. But if your life is at stake, you may not want to calculate the entire payoff matrix to look for a saddlepoint. The point is that a meaning only has to have one useful context to last, no matter what else it might have meant elsewhere.
    – jlawler
    Commented May 22, 2015 at 19:44

3 Answers 3


I was puzzling over these meanings for "ked": 'go', 'give', and 'give up' (possibly 3 separate meanings), looking for a good explanation of words containing this root for my students in an advanced ESL Reading/Vocabulary class.
"Intercede", "secede", and "exceed" do not appear to contain a recessive semantic element to them, and even could be taken as somewhat aggressive. So here's a hypothesis I submit for consideration: The original meaning of "ked" was 'go', and this was the basis for all the non-recessive words containing "ked". But if you go/leave from a battle or hostile encounter, that is giving, giving up, or yielding, so this secondary meaning was later derived.
Does anybody have any information supporting or refuting this hypothesis?


I don't know if there's any connection between the PIE root *ked- and the Sematic root "K.D.M" (Hebrew קדם; Arabic قديم).

I know Hebrew, and there this root (KDM) creates a lot of words that actually mean "opposite" ideas. And to understand them, I think you need to think what's the origin of the words?

So, in ancient times, before the age of compass, people didn't align themselves to the north, but rather to the east - where the sun came out of. This direction was called Kadma (קדמה). And so (one can speculate that) the notion of advancement became connected with the movement of the sun. That's why the word "forward" is Kadima in Hebrew (קדימה). As forward is what follows what is here (position wise) or now (time wise). What came after in time is also called "progress" or Kidma (קידמה). You can get forward in social status, i.e. you can get a promotion, or Kidum (קידום).

But the idea can also be in reverse - the sun moves, and you can focus on where its going to (go forward) or where it came from (backward).

And so what comes before is in Hebrew Kodem (קודם). What is ancient is Kadum (קדום) or Kadmon (קדמון).

And so, and not for the first time, the same word, or root, can mean opposite ideas, depending on your point of view.

So with that, maybe it's a bit easier to understand how the movement of the sun can on one hand imply activeness, "going" somewhere, advancing; and on the other hand it can also imply passiveness, "yielding", leaving something behind.

Hope it might help!

  • I just learned that there's also a PIE root *kad - which means to fall, and might be more fitting than *ked. Though the 2 might be related. Commented Jan 12, 2019 at 17:55

I think the key here is relationships. Within any relationship (human to human, human to earth, human to "spirit" or God) any movement (to go) corresponds to a concession on the other end of the relationship (to yield).

This reminds me of the dynamic between "to do" and "to be". When considering a single organism, doing inherently alters the organism's state of being

One might say that any two entities in relationship with one another constitute a single organism, wherein if one component acts the other is also affected (or is that "effected"? I get confused). Anyhow, when considering a single-component entity "to go" and "to yield" are two distinct actions; but within a dual-component system "ked" describes the interaction of going and yielding happening at the same time.

So, it seems possible that the root "ked" originated in a context where the distinction between subject and object was blurry.

  • 1
    My going to the river doesn't require any concession, and a river can't concede anything.
    – user6726
    Commented Jul 28, 2015 at 18:36

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