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Subject: The Word
Question: Good morning. Here is an interesting one. Do you have any information or could you expound on the relationship between the words: Urim (Hebrew), Aurum (Latin), Oro (Spanish), Ore, Or (That's the French isn't it). Urim is from the Bible. Also, I was wondering if these words are related to the name of the ancient middle eastern place called Ophir (in the Bible too). I'm thinking that in the Bible when it says ''the Urim...'' that it is talking about ''the shiny, brilliant, gold-like things'' sort of. Plural of course because ''im'' in Hebrew makes things plural. Aurora, Aura are obviously all related. Thanks a lot.
Reply: You have mentioned a number of different, unrelated words. Latin "aurum" means gold, and the Spanish and French words are what that word has turned into in some of the modern languages descended from Latin. (I expect that is true for "ore" also but I don't recognize which Romance language that might represent.) Hebrew "urim", as in "urim and thummim", is derived from the Hebrew word for 'light' (the word for 'gold' in Hebrew is "zahav", quite different – in general you would not expect to find correspondences of vocabulary between Hebrew and Latin, though there are some special cases). The place-name Ophir, I understand, etymologically means "ashes", related to the Hebrew word for that which is "epher". Aurora was originally the Roman goddess of the dawn; it is possible that you are correct to link it to "aurum", 'gold', but the alternative etymology (which I think is regarded as more probable) derives it from a root meaning 'burn'. "Aura" has nothing to do with any of these words, I'm afraid; it is simply the Latin for "breeze". Geoffrey Sampson
Reply From: Geoffrey Richard Sampson      click here to access email
Date: 10-Jan-2013
Other Replies:
  1. Re: The Word    Herbert Frederic Stahlke     (10-Jan-2013)
  2. Re: The Word    Elizabeth J Pyatt     (10-Jan-2013)

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