The English word god continues the Old English god (guþ, gudis in Gothic, gud in modern Scandinavian, God in Dutch, and Gott in modern German), which derives from the Proto-Germanic *ǥuđán.
The Proto-Germanic meaning of *ǥuđán
and its etymology is uncertain. It is generally agreed that it derives from a Proto-Indo-European
neuter passive perfect participle
. This form within (late) Proto-Indo-European itself was possibly ambiguous, either derived from a root *
"to pour, libate" (Sanskrit , see ), or from a root *
) "to call, to invoke" (Sanskrit ). Sanskrit hutá
= "having been sacrificed", from the verb root hu
= "sacrifice", but a smallish shift of meaning could give the meaning "one who sacrifices are made to".
Depending on which possibility is preferred, the pre-Christian meaning of the Germanic term may either have been (in the "pouring" case) "libation" or "that which is libated upon, idol" — or, as Watkins opines in the light of Greek χυτη γαια "poured earth" meaning "tumulus", "the Germanic form may have referred in the first instance to the spirit immanent in a burial mound" — or (in the "invoke" case) "invocation, prayer" (compare the meanings of Sanskrit '') or "that which is invoked".
A significant number of scholars have connected this root with the names of three related Germanic tribes
: the Geats
, the Goths
and the Gutar
. These names may be derived from an eponymous chieftain Gaut
, who was subsequently deified. He also sometimes appears in early Medieval sagas
as a name of Odin
or one of his descendants, a former king of the Geats (Gaut(i)
), an ancestor of the Gutar
), of the Goths (Gothus
) and of the royal line of Wessex
) and as a previous hero of the Goths
). Some variant forms of the name Odin such as the Lombardic Godan
show a clear derivation from the cognate Proto-Germanic *ǥuđánaz
The name God
was used to represent Greek Theos
, Latin Deus
translations, first in the Gothic translation of the New Testament
. For the etymology of deus
, see *
Greek theos is unrelated, and of uncertain origin. It is often connected with Latin feriae "holidays", fanum "temple", and also Armenian di-k` "gods". Alternative suggestions (e.g. by De Saussure) connect "smoke, spirit", attested in Baltic and Germanic words for "spook," and ultimately cognate with Latin fumus "smoke."
The development of English orthography was dominated by Christian texts. Capitalized, "God" was first used to refer to the Judeo-Christian concept and may now signify any monotheistic conception of God, including the translations of the Arabic , Indic Ishvara and the African Masai Engai.
- as "Lord "
- as " God"
- as "Lord "
- κυριος ο θεος As " God" (in the New Testament)
The use of capitalization, as for a proper noun, has persisted to disambiguate the concept of a singular God, specifically the Christian God, from pagan deities for which lower case god has continued to be applied, mirroring the use of Latin deus. Pronouns referring to God are also often capitalized and are traditionally in the masculine gender, i.e. "He", "His" etc.
See El (god)
for discussions of the Hebrew names for God.