Sunday, December 06, 2020

gambit and ganav

Here's one I wouldn't have ever thought of. 

"Gambit" is a ploy or strategy, used to gain an advantage.

The Online Etymology Dictionary says the origin is in Latin:

"chess opening in which a pawn or piece is risked for advantage later," 1650s, gambett, from Italian gambetto, literally "a tripping up" (as a trick in wrestling), from gamba "leg," from Late Latin gamba (see gambol (n.)). Applied to chess openings in Spanish in 1561 by Ruy Lopez, who traced it to the Italian word, but the form in Spanish generally was gambito, which led to French gambit, which has influenced the English spelling of the word. Broader sense of "opening move meant to gain advantage" in English is recorded from 1855.

However, others suggest a Semitic origin. For example, Klein writes:

French, from Spanish gambito, from Arabic janbi, 'lateral', from janb, 'side' (whence janaba, 'he put aside'), which is relate to Aramaic-Syriac gabh, gabba, 'side', Hebrew ganabh, Aram.-Syr. genabh, 'he stole', literally 'he put aside', Heb. gannabh, 'thief'.

While Klein doesn't mention it here, Kaddari does say that ganav גנב can also mean "to put aside, remove." In fact, he lists this meaning as the first entry in his dictionary, indicating that this is the original meaning, as found in this verse:

יִהְיוּ כְּתֶבֶן לִפְנֵי־רוּחַ וּכְמֹץ גְּנָבַתּוּ סוּפָה׃

Let them become like straw in the wind, like chaff carried off [genavto] by a storm. (Iyov 21:18)

This book goes one step further, and says that the Hebrew word for "back" - גב gav also derives from the same root, because the back is "still a half of the body."  Klein, however, says that gav comes from a different root - גבב, meaning "something curved."


No comments: