About the word «God»

The word « God » in phonetic /d/  is a noun which has various definitions. First of all, in Old English, the word God refers to the supreme being. Moreover, it can also refers to the creator and ruler of the universe. God refers to the principal object of faith for believers and can be seen as the source of moral authority. Today, and depending on the different religion that exist, the word God can refers to different divinities. For instance, with Yahvé in Christianism and in Judaism, but also with Allah in Islam…

I. Etymology

The exact origin of the word God still remains unknown today. However, we know that the very first use and written form of the word comes from the Codex Argenteus. The Codex Argentus was a silver book, finding during the 6th century, which contains a translation of the Bible from the 4th century written in the Gothic language. Moreover, it is said, that the word « God » was presumably appeared at the beginning of the Iron Age, in Proto-Germanic, also known as Common Germanic,  which is the ancestor of all Germanic languages. We can conclude by saying that the word God is almost 2 500 years old today.

The English word « God » had kept the same writing from the Old English. In Gothic, we can find the word written guþ, gudis, and in Old Norse guð. The origin of the word comes from a Germanic roots from the word « gad » and pronounced « gohdt ». Moreover, it is said that the word « God » is closely related to the Dutch, with its word « God », but also to the German with the word « Gott ». Furthermore, the word is derived from Proto Germanic « uán » which itself derived from a « Proto Indo European neuter passive perfect participle *u-tó-m ». This form also had different meanings because it can refers to the verb « to call » or to « invoke » = (invocation, prayer). Moreover the origin of the word also meant « invoked one ».

The word « God » has been, by different scholars, linked to three old Germanic tribes known as the Greats, the Goths and the Gutar. The three tribes were present during the middle age during the first century. At that time « God » was a reference for Odin, known as « Wden » in Old English. Odin was considered as the principle God in the Germanic mythology.

II. Change of the word through the years

At first, the noun « God » referred to a neuter noun. However, and after the coming of Christianity, the word « God » shifted its gender. Indeed, it went from a neuter noun to a masculine one. Moreover, and according to some scientists the word God was considered as an European invention because it was never used in manuscripts  written in Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek or Latin.

III. Use of the word « God » in different cases

The word « god » is today used for different things with no real link to the very first meaning of the word. For instance, after a sneeze with the term « God bless you ». The first use of this sentence appeared in AD 77. During this period, people thought that after a sneeze the soul was outside the body and the devil could invade it through its presence. Today, if a person says « God bless you » it doesn’t referred directly to God, it is just seen as a common English expression.

Moreover, the word God was derived into another expression known as « Oh My God ». Indeed, this expression appeared in a 1917 letter written by Lord Fisher and addressed to Winston Churchill during the second World War. Following this, the sentence « Oh my God » or also « OMG » became a catch phrase still used a century after in the entire world.

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