ETYMOLOGY OF EGYPTIAN HMT " WOMAN"
W. F. ALBRIGHT.
Owing to the fewness of tlie workers, and the extremely unfavorable post-hellum
conditions, Egypto-Semitie etymology does not make the rapid progress to be expectecl
of it under normal circumstances, since like other virgin fields it is incredibly fertile.
Thanks to exact phonetic équations, we can now till this soil with comparative freedom
from error. The writer, like every other Egypto-Semitic philologist, looks back rue-
fully to the blunders and the rash adventures of his apprenticeship, but may comfort
himself with the reflection that he was not alone.
The word hmt (not hymt, as Steindorff writes) was pronounced in Old Egyptian
hîmet, as shown hy Coptic (c)ziMe, certainly going back to Mmat, hmt, a biliteral
like Sem. bint «daughter** and gint « wine-press**. As shown hy the etyma, Eg. wbn
cerise, corne into existence » (cf. Assyr. situ «offspring**, from wasû ccrisen) and Ar.
wdgana a beat cloth, hide**, thèse words are intimately connected with the infinitives
of verhs primes waw, of the forai lîdat-lédet and mise (transferred in Egyptian to verbs
lertiœ infirmes). Accordingly, we must evidently combine Eg. hmt with Heb. yahdm,
for *wdhim, crbe in heat**, but especially «become pregnant, conceive** (Gen. 3o :
38 f.) and in the pfel «make pregnant*? (Gen. 3i : 10). Ar. wdhima means «be in-
compliant (sexually, of female)'* per anttphrasin, and also «have a craving, of pregnant
womani, by a fusion, we may suppose, of the tvvo meanings rrlust after** and ccbe
pregnant**. Ar. iawahhama means ccbe lustful, in heat** (Dozy) and wahâm means
celust■)■*. For the semantic development, «be pregnant, pregnant one, woman**, cf.
Assyr. sinnistu, from sns= Eth. dansa «be pregnant, conceive**, and Lat. femina,
connected with fétus and fecundus. Not every woman becomes pregnant, but the capa-
city for pregnancy is the principal characterislic of the female sex.
The root hm means ecto be hotn, in ail the possible variations of the thème, in-
cluding the sexual one, as illustrated especially hy Ar. hdmâ and hamma. It is curious
that the Avord found in Semitic as Aram. himlà, Heb. hemdh, Assyr. imtu, «gall,
wrath, poison**, has the same phonetic form as Eg. hîme «woman**, though the
Avords are entirely distinct. The development of the idea of rrelationship** with a
sexual connotation is also found; Ar. ham, hamw (Heb. ham, Assyr. emu) refers to any
maie relation on the husband's side, especially the father-in-law, and hamât to any