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Bible Encyclopedias

The Catholic Encyclopedia

Etymology of the Word "God"

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(Anglo-Saxon God ; German Gott ; akin to Persian khoda ; Hindu khooda ).

God can variously be defined as:

  • the proper name of the one Supreme and Infinite Personal Being, the Creator and Ruler of the universe, to whom man owes obedience and worship;
  • the common or generic name of the several supposed beings to whom, in polytheistic religions, Divine attributes are ascribed and Divine worship rendered;
  • the name sometimes applied to an idol as the image or dwelling-place of a god.

The root-meaning of the name (from Gothic root gheu ; Sanskrit hub or emu , "to invoke or to sacrifice to") is either "the one invoked" or "the one sacrificed to." From different Indo-Germanic roots (div , "to shine" or "give light"; thes in thessasthai "to implore") come the Indo-Iranian deva , Sanskrit dyaus (gen. divas ), Latin deus , Greek theos , Irish and Gaelic dia , all of which are generic names; also Greek Zeus (gen. Dios , Latin Jupiter ( jovpater ), Old Teutonic Tiu or Tiw (surviving in Tuesday ), Latin Janus , Diana , and other proper names of pagan deities. The common name most widely used in Semitic occurs as 'el in Hebrew, 'ilu in Babylonian, 'ilah in Arabic, etc.; and though scholars are not agreed on the point, the root-meaning most probably is "the strong or mighty one."

P.J. TONER

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Bibliography Information
Obstat, Nihil. Lafort, Remy, Censor. Entry for 'Etymology of the Word "God"'. The Catholic Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/e/etymology-of-the-word-god.html. Robert Appleton Company. New York. 1914.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, November 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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