Origin of English word HOVER

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English Word


Edenic Word


Hebrew Word









There is no Indo-European “root” for HOVER, and Webster’s given etymon, Anglo-Saxon hos (house), lacks sound and sense.   But see HOUSE, as even the poorest published etymologies are traceable to Edenic.

1)  The first Edenic etymon offered for HOVER, from the second verse of Genesis, is רחף Ra[K]HaiPH (“move” – KJV). There is no lexical reason for the  “–er” of HOVER to be a suffix.  To his credit, Robert Alter does translate רחף Ra[K]HeF  (Genesis 1:2) as “hover” in his 2004 translation of the Five Books of Moses.

2)  HOVER  could also be from עף   [A]hF  (to fly) see AVIATE.   This is a stronger theory if the “er”  of HOVER is a suffix. See Ayin-turned-H at entries like HERD and HONEY.


HOVERCRAFT shows how vehicles, like helicopters and flying saucers, can HOVER.  But the word began with the distinct flying in place done by winged animals, and Genesis 1:2 dramatically evokes the Creator as a parent bird nurturing her young with the choice of this unusual word. רחם RaK[H]eM, to have mercy (I Kings 8:50), shares a Resh-Het with רחף Ra[K]H aiPH.    This compassionate HOVERING-over-birdlings theme is expressed in the double-root found in  רחף Ra[K]HaiPH .  While Resh-Het only sounds like Resh-Khaf, the first root is like רך RaKH, weak… a young child (see WEAK).  The second, Het-Phey sub-root, means “covering.”

חפף [K]HaPHahPH is to cover, protect, shield (Deuteronomy 33:12).  Other guttural-bilabial coverings include חפה   K[H]ooPaH (canopy),  חפוי  K[H]aPHOOY (covered), KaPoaReT (cover, curtain), קרכפת QaRKePHeT (skull, head) and עב GHa[V] (cloud).   More on this sub-root, including synonyms like CAPE and antonyms meaning uncovered, are at entries like CAP, CAVE and COVER.  A Biblical image depicts people under the Lord’s metaphoric “wings.”  Our sub-roots add up to   רחף Ra[K]HaiPH (to hover) meaning “merciful covering of the weak and young.”  

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