En means lord in Sumerian and El god or deity in Semitic. Semitic peoples use the word lord as a synonym of god, it seems that the same happens with Sumerian and its gods like Enlil, Enki, Enzu etc.

So, can we say that the Semitic El is the equivalent of En in Sumerian?

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    A few problems here. The Proto-semitic root is generally reconstructed as ∗ʾil or ∗ʾel, not ∗el: note the initial ʾ (aleph/alif). ∗ʾel doesn't look very much like ∗en except for having the vowel e. Also, your title and your last sentence don't quite match. Could we say that ∗ʾel is the equivalent of ∗en? Yes, but only in the sense that they have a similar meaning. Could we say there is a connection? No, not in the sense that they have any etymological or historical connection. Commented Apr 23, 2019 at 16:42
  • @MarkBeadles basic is rather hard to define. Your first comment adds the most basic information that was missing, alleviating the need to close. However, your comment does not allow inferring an answer either way. Is the reconstruction Proto-Semitic or Proto-Afro-Asiatic? PAA would be a stronger indicator. I guess it's PS though and I don't see how that would disprove a relation. Even with PAA, a decision would hinge on the other side of the coin, the origin of Sumerian, of which little is known. Naively speaking, a correspondence between two liquid consonants is not absurd.
    – vectory
    Commented Apr 23, 2019 at 18:34
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    @vectory On reflection, I agree that I may have been a little harsh. I do think that this question is salvageable. A good answer would probably take about the complex relationship between Sumerian and Akkadian both culturally and linguistically. Commented Apr 23, 2019 at 19:35
  • How you can conclude 'El' is Sematic exclusively when we find a related term in Sumerian as well e.g. 'Elis' in Seven tablets of 'Enuma Elis' and also it's extention in form of 'elaani' Commented May 1, 2019 at 18:27
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    @B.N.Bhaskar Enuma Eliš is Akkadian, not Sumerian, and eliš comes from *ʕalay- "above"; the Akkadian cognate to ʔel is ilum.
    – Draconis
    Commented Aug 13, 2023 at 17:14

1 Answer 1


The Sumerian word en could be translated as "lord" in English, but "lord" doesn't mean "god." A landlord isn't a "land-god", nor are the "lords and ladies" equivalent to "gods and goddesses." In English, when addressing the Judaeo-Christian god, "lord" is a title. Similarly, you could call a knight "sir" but that wouldn't make "sir" mean "knight."

The Sumerian equivalent to 'el (the common noun, not the name of the deity) would be dingir. The Akkadian cognate of 'el, by the way, is ilum. Looks a lot less like en, doesn't it? In fact, in cuneiform, Akkadian ilum and Sumerian dingir use the same sign (see the above link for what that looks like).

However, with en, the Sumerian uses different signs, and is equivalent to the Akkadian bēlum instead, which in turn is cognate with the Hebrew ba'al.

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