On the website, "Edenics- Where Language Began" it is mentioned that the Hebrew word 'zinoot'(fornication) a Zayin-mem word have influenced the English sin". Since the z and the s are closely associated with each other phonetically can we assume that this is a small linguistical connection forming a plausible route to explore further or is this just speculation?

  • Welcome to SE Linguistics! Can you improve your answer by editing it and adding a link?
    – robert
    Jun 14, 2014 at 17:43
  • 4
    We discussed this "edenics" nonsense before: linguistics.stackexchange.com/questions/7048/…
    – fdb
    Jun 14, 2014 at 21:18
  • 1
    With single syllable words in unrelated languages it's almost always pure coincidence assisted by people hunting for coincidences and ignoring or bending simplistic assumptions about how they think languages might work. Most people who know both English and Hebrew are modern diaspora Jews or modern Israelis. In the past only a very few English speakers knew Hebrew, and of those the only ones capable of influencing this similarity were bible translators. But until recent times all English bible translations were from much older Latin translations, not directly from Hebrew. Jun 15, 2014 at 1:17
  • English sin has a secure etymology going back to Proto-Indo-European (see Thomas Gross's answer), so there's no way it could be derived from a Hebrew word. And generally, don't believe a word you read on any "Edenics" website. This stuff is to linguistics what astrology is to astronomy.
    – TKR
    Jun 15, 2014 at 4:33
  • 2
    I do not quite agree with the last part of hippietrail’s coment. The 17th-century “authorised” (King James) version of the Bible was translated directly from the original languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek), though it was of course influenced by the earlier Latin-to-English translations.
    – fdb
    Jun 15, 2014 at 9:02

2 Answers 2


This is not how etymology works. You need to explain the whole word, not pick out a couple of letters that you think sound similar. The idea that Hebrew is the source of all languages is a theological dogma, not a linguistic theory.


In contemporary Hebrew, znut means "prostitution". It's related to zayin "cock, dick". Concerning pronunciation, it is unlikely that Hebrew znut and English sin are related. The first Hebrew sound is /z/, the first English sound is /s/. Here's the etymology of English sin. One can see there and here that the Hebrew word for "sin" is חטא khe'.

  • 1
    The Classical Hebrew and Semitic root z-n-y means “fornicate”. Modern Hebrew zayin is a loan from Arabic zayn “ornament”, root z-y-n. They are not connected etymologically.
    – fdb
    Jun 14, 2014 at 20:44
  • @fdb I'm not sure about zayin being an Arabic loan; I've seen other etymologies (either from zayin "weapon", or from the letter name zayin as an abbreviation for zereg or some other synonymous obscenity). But you're right that it's not from the root z-n-y, of course.
    – TKR
    Jun 15, 2014 at 4:31
  • I appreciate so far the comments offered. The consensus seems to overwhelmingly condemn the Edenics website as was previously quoted in part. I will stay neutral on that for the time being. Going back to my question though I reiterate again the s to z phenomenon here in the making of these sounds. They are both fricatives as I have come to understand, one voiced and the other voiceless. One can produce each sound separately in the same breath by adjusting the mechanisms of the throat with the vocal cords. This can be accomplished from going from the s to z and reversed from the z to s. True? Jun 15, 2014 at 17:37
  • @DuaneT.Bentz Well yes, but so what? Vocal fold vibration is associated with all sonorants. Do you want to bring all these sounds into the discussion? Jun 15, 2014 at 17:56
  • @Thomas Green: Did the word 'znut' exist before say from Biblical Hebrew and 700 BCE? Jun 15, 2014 at 17:57

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.