Armenian Language Corner

The Roots of Hate

English has a slew of words with Latin roots, which have a different meaning than their counterparts with Germanic ones.

Consider the case of “hatred” (Germanic) and “odium” (Latin). Hatred is a kind of long-held feeling, while odium points out to an immediate response, mixed with repulsion and condemnation, to something specific. By the way, even though they may look somehow similar, both words are totally unrelated in their origins.

The root of Latin odium is the Proto-Indo-European root *od-io (“hatred”), and from the verb *odi (“to hate”) we have the Latin verb odi and the Armenian verb ատել (atel in the Eastern Armenian pronunciation; adel in Western Armenian) “to hate.” (There is an Old English word, atoll, which means “hated, awful”, but did not make it into the modern language).

Interestingly, while the Armenian verb adel combines the root ad and the desinence el, the corresponding noun combines the verb and the -ootioon ending to form ատելութիւն (adelootioon “hatred”). Compare the case of ուտել (oodel “to eat”) and ուտելիք (oodelik “food”).

We can also mention that Modern Armenian, as in many other cases, makes recourse to Classical Armenian to make compound words related to hatred. From a particular form of the verb adel in Classical Armenian, we have the derivation ատեաց (adeats), which only appears in compound words. For instance, a misanthrope (someone who dislikes humankind) is a մարդատեաց (martadeats) and a misogynist, a կնատեաց (gunadeats).

But because hatred is combined with fear, the Greek root phobos is sometimes translated in Armenian with the word adeats. That is the case for someone who fears or hates aliens or foreigners, i.e. a xenophobe, who is an օտարատեաց (odaradeats).

In a nutshell, even though the English word “odium” is not one that we have at the tip of our tongues (we may use “odious” more frequently), we can still list it as another one having an Armenian sibling: adel.