Word Family - Seven

July Miscellaneous

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  • Proto-Afro-Asiatic
    • Berber
      • Amazigh satti
      • Northern Berber
        • Kabyle sebea
        • Atlas Berber
          • Taselhit ? sa
        • Zenati
          • Riffian sa
      • Tuareg ? essa
    • Egyptian śfḫ
      • Demotic Egyptian sáfxe
        • Coptic šašf
    • Semitic *s-b-'tu
      • Central Semitic
        • Arabic سَبْع sabʿ
          • Maltese sebgħa
        • Northwest Semitic
          • Aramaic ܫܒܥ‎‎ šbaʕ
          • Canaanite
            • Hebrew שֶׁבַע‎‎ sheva
              • Hebrew שַׁבָּת shabát Shabat, Sabbath, week
            • Phoenician 𐤔𐤁𐤏‬ šbʻ
      • East Semitic
        • Akkadian ? šibit
          • Proto-Kartvelian *šwid
            • Georgian შვიდი švidi
      • South Semitic
        • Ethiopic
          • Amharic ሰባት säbat
          • Ge'ez ሰብዐቱ säbʿätu
          • Tigrinya ሸውዓተ šäwʿatä
      • Proto-Indo-European *septḿ̥ seven
        • Albanian shtatë
        • Anatolian
          • Hittite *šipta
            • Hittite ? šiptamiya name of a drink
        • Old Armenian եաւթն eawtʿn
          • Armenian յոթ yotʿ
        • Balto-Slavic *septim
          • Lithuanian septyni
          • Slavic *sedmь
            • East Slavic
              • Russian семь semʹ
            • South Slavic
              • Serbo-Croatian се̏дам sȅdam
            • West Slavic
              • Polish siedem
          • Finno-Ugric *śäjćem
            • Finnic *säic'en
              • Finnish seitsemän
              • Estonian seitse
            • Permic
              • Komi-Permyak сизим sizim
            • Samic *čiečëm
              • Northern Sami čieža
            • Ugric *säptɜ
              • Hungarian hét
        • Celtic *sextam Pre-Celtic <*seɸtam>
          • Brythonic *seiθ
            • Breton seizh
            • Welsh saith
          • Gaulish sextam
          • Old Irish secht
            • Irish seacht
        • Germanic *sebun
          • East Germanic
            • Gothic 𐍃𐌹𐌱𐌿𐌽 sibun
              • Crimean Gothic sevene
          • North Germanic
            • Old Norse ᛋᛁᚢ sju
              • Danish sjv
              • Icelandic sjö
          • West Germanic
            • Old English seofon
              • English seven
            • Frankish
              • Dutch zeven
            • Old High German sibun
              • German sieben
              • Yiddish זיבן zibn
        • Hellenic *heptə́
          • Ancient Greek ἑπτά heptá
            • English hepta-
            • Greek εφτά eftá
              • Romani efta
        • Indo-Iranian *saptá
          • Indo-Aryan
            • Sanskrit सप्तन् saptán
              • Elu
                • Sinhala හත hata
              • Magadhi
                • Bengali সাত sat
              • Maharashtri
                • Marathi
              • Sauraseni
                • Madhya
                  • Hindi सात sāt
                • Pahari
                  • Punjabi ਸੱਤ satta
                • Pali
                • Malay sapta
          • Iranian
            • East Iranian
              • Avestan 𐬵𐬀𐬞𐬙𐬀 hapta
              • Pashto اووه‏ uwə
              • Scythian
                • Ossetian авд avd
            • West Iranian
              • Kurdish heft
              • Old Persian
                • Persian هفت haft
        • Italic
          • Latin septem
            • Sardinian sette
            • Eastern Romance
              • Romanian șapte
            • Western Romance
              • French sept
              • Italian sette
              • Spanish siette
            • English sept-
            • Latin *septem-o-mēnsris seventh month
              • Classical Latin september September
                • Italian settembre September
                • English September
                • Arabic سبتمبر sibtimbir September
                • Greek Σεπτέμβριος Septémvrios September
        • Tocharian
          • Arshian ṣpät
          • Kuchean ṣukt
          • Samoyedic *säjkwə
            • Nenets сиˮив siqiw
      • Etruscan 𐌔𐌄𐌌𐌘 semf


Collected English words

seven, hepta-, sept-, September

Foot Notes

Note 1

"Seven" is written with a sumerogram (cuneiform logogram) in Hittite, and does not appear spelled out in phonetic form. But the word for "seven" is almost certainly reflected in the Hittite drink <šiptamiya>, which probably literally means either "seventh" or "made of seven (ingredients)".

Note 2

Reconstructing Finno-Ugric "seven" comes up with slightly different answers from different descendant languages: <*śäjćem>, <*śićem>, or <*śäćem>. It's a strong possibility that the word was borrowed on several different occassions in slightly different forms.

Note 3

People often conflate the off-by-two phenomenon in Roman month names (september is 9th, october is 10th, etc.) with the fact that July and August are named after the emperors Julius and Augustus Caesar, and attribute the off by two to inserting those two months. In fact, those months were renamed, not added, and used to be called <Quintilis> and <Sextilis>.

The two inserted months that caused the mismatch between names and numbering were actually January and February at the beginning of the year; the approx. two month period of winter was originally not part of any month, and the year began at the beginning of spring, with March.

Compare comman Roman masculine names which include Quintus, Sextus, Septimus, Octavius, Nonus, and Decimus (but not names based on 1-4). Likewise, the months were originally named for 1-4 (March, April, May, June) and numbered for 5-10.


It may seems strange to see the word for "seven" borrowed around between so many different language families, when the numbers 1-10 are so highly conserved in descendants of Proto-Indo-European. But 10-based number systems seem to not go back as far as you would think. There is evidence that PIE had only recent transitioned from a 5-based to a 10-based number system around the reconstruction period. Circumstantial, but compelling en masse.

  1. There are some unexpected irregularities in descendants of <*septm>, most notably, the lack of the expected /t/ in Germanic <*sebun>.
  2. PIE <*septḿ̥>: "seven" resembles Semitic <*s-b-'tu>: "seven".
  3. Finno-Ugric has definitively borrowed the word for "seven" from Indo-European languages, probably on multiple occassions. In fact, the numbers 1-6 and 10 are highly conserved throughout Finno-Ugric, but 7 is a clear borrowing from IE and 8 and 9 are highly variable.

    Additionally, the common word for 6 is plausibly derived from "one-and-five" (<*ük(t)e> (one) + <*witte> (five) -> <*kutte> (six), and the word for 10 which is common throughout Finno-Ugric, is used for 5 instead in Samoyedic.

    All together, this suggests a 5-based system in Late Proto-Uralic/Early Proto-Finno-Ugric, and establishes a precedent for PIE transitioning from base 5 to base 10 shortly before the reconstruction period.

  4. PIE <*swéḱs>: "six" is also possibly borrowed from Semitic, compare PIE <*swéḱs> with Semitic words for "six", like Arabic <سِتَّة‎‎> (sitta), Aramaic <שתא‎‎> (štā’), Hebrew <שישה> (shishá).
  5. PIE <*oḱtṓw>: "eight" apparently derives from a dual of an old word for "four".

    PIE <*(H)óynos>: "one" has the form of a singular. PIE <*dwóh₁>: "two" has the form of a dual. PIE <*tréyes>: "three" and <*kʷetwóres>: "four" are clear plural forms, and possibly <*pénkʷe>: "five", also. <*(s)wéḱs>, <*septḿ̥>, <*(h₁)néwn̥>, and <*déḱm̥t> don't decline like normal nouns or like the numbers 1-4 (maybe 5), do. But <*oḱtṓw> is another dual.

    The singular that this dual corresponds to is also a valid reconstruction from Avestan <𐬀𐬱𐬙𐬌‎> (ašti): "width of four fingers", and seems to have been borrowed by Kartvelian langauges, e.g. Georgian <ოთხი> (otkhi): "four".

  6. PIE <*h₁néwn̥>: "nine", looks a little bit like it literally means "lacking one". Not compelling on its own, but more so when combined with the evidence that 6-8 are relatively new plus similar constructions in other languages: cf. Finnish <yhdeksän>: "nine", but literally "one less", Bantu <isishiyagalolunye>: "nine", lit. "leave behind one", and Cree <kêkâ-mitâtaht>: "nine", lit. "almost ten".
  7. Extensions of 5-based systems into 10-based systems can also be seen in the numbers systems of Sumerian, Mayan, Cree, Inuit, Bantu, and Proto-Austronesian number words. Based on comparing Samoyedic to the rst of Uralic, Early Proto-Uralic looks like it had transitioned from 3-based to 5-based, shortly before it started moving to 10-based. Ngaanyatjarra in Australia still has a 3-based number system. "five" is <kutjarra-marnkurra>: "two-three".