When I first heard the Hebrew name for the Old City of Jerusalem, haʕir haʕattiqa, lit. "the old city", I thought I heard an echo in the term. I thought of Attic Greece but more plausibly of antique and its root in antiquus, perhaps with an assimilated /n/.

Further investigation suggests that it's pure coincidence that these forms are similar: ʕattiq is from an Aramaic root עתק apparently meaning "vast", while antiquus is from a PIE compound *h₂énti-h₃kʷós, the most familiar derived morpheme being ante-, "before".

Nevertheless, because my knowledge of possible links between ancient Semitic roots and ancient European roots is lacking, I thought I would put it to the community for "there may be a distant relationship" or a definite "the book can be closed" :)

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    There are some Hebrew words that while originate from ancient roots, were chosen specifically to resemble European words. Like "mekanit" for automobile, "mekhandes" for engineer, "kalkelan" for economist, "masika" for a mask etc.
    – Anixx
    Dec 27, 2021 at 5:29
  • @Anixx Very good point! I didn't bother to look at the date of the etymology on Wiktionary and that would be a plausible relationship. Looking at cognates, though, I see it does appear in the Qur'an, so ʕattiq definitely isn't in that class. Dec 27, 2021 at 15:19
  • There are some other resembling words about which one can only speculate, such as Russian tsvet "color" and Hebrew tseva "color", Russian doroga "road" and Hebrew dereh "road". The word meaning "is" in Hebrew is yesh, resembling Russian yest' and transliterated like "is", resembling the English one. The words for "six" (shesh, similar to Russian shest') and seven (sheva) also resemble the IE ones, but these are often conjectured to be PIE-time borrowings. One more is the Hebrew word "she" which means "that", as in "said that...", "knew that...", similar to Russian "shto...", Ukrainian "sho".
    – Anixx
    Dec 27, 2021 at 16:29
  • But word coincidences happen. For instance, there is an Italian word "strano", meaning "strange" and a Russian word "stranno" meaning the same. And they are entirely unrelated.
    – Anixx
    Dec 27, 2021 at 16:35

1 Answer 1


The similarity is a coincidence. The book can definitely be closed.

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    Funny to think the same person might have paradoxically downvoted both my question and your answer...! Dec 24, 2021 at 22:13
  • Well, anyway, you're probably right (especially as there's no accounting for the ע), though it would have been good to hear your reasoning. Dec 25, 2021 at 23:55
  • I downvoted this because it's a comment, not an answer to the question. Wait a minute, there is no question, only statements. There isn't even mention of Ἀττική
    – vectory
    Jan 14, 2022 at 14:04

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