Kwisatz Haderach is one example of a name that is inspired by a Hebrew phrase. What is a complete list of terms that are used in Dune and share this property?

  • 1
    There are also (even more) Latin/Roman-inspired phrases/terms, as well as Arabic ones. – Noldorin Jan 30 '11 at 11:51
  • 2
    The verb hadara (spelling?) in Arabic means "to come," and is the same radical used to denote a messiah, as in "coming of the messiah." – Taj Moore Dec 19 '11 at 23:53

Most of the Semitic-language-derived terms in Dune are proximately from Arabic rather than Hebrew. Looking over a glossary of Dune terminology, I see these that look relevant to your question:

  • Aba has been Islamified, but the term (and/or "abaya") apparently shows up in Tanach as the garb of Hebrew prophets.
  • Arafel is Hebrew (ערפל).
  • Baraka is probably Arabic-derived, but has such closely related meanings in Arabic and Hebrew as to make little difference.
  • The "Bene" in Bene Gesserit and Bene Tleilax is, if pronounced with the stress on the second syllable, Hebrew for "children of" (more popularly transliterated b'nei or b'nai ). It's remotely possible that "Bene Gesserit" is meant to allude to a distorted Hebrew for "children of the narrow path", but as others have noted, it's more likely straight from Latin. "Tleilaxu" is not Hebrew (neither it nor Arabic have an X), but the "Bene" in "Bene Tleilax" is more likely to be from the Semitic "children of" rather than the Latin "good", the Tleilaxu being Zensufis and all.
  • Fedaykin is probably from Arabic "fedayeen", but Hebrew has pretty much the same word, פַדַאיוּן
  • Sayyadina I suspect of being derived from an Arabic term with Hebrew roots, but I can't prove it.
  • 1
    Also "qanat": en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qanat – Steve Melnikoff Jan 28 '11 at 17:32
  • @Steve Melnikoff: Seems to be strictly Arabic? I didn't mention "qaid" for the same reason. – chaos Jan 28 '11 at 17:35
  • 1
    Indeed, it was Arabic that primarily influenced the terminology and some of the content of Dune. Hebrew doesn't seem to come into it much. – Noldorin Jan 30 '11 at 11:53
  • 1
    Also, the most likely origin of the term Bene Gesserit is from Latin, not Hebrew. In fact it appears undistorted in the long-standing Latin legal phrase "quamdiu se bene gesserit". Gesserit may also have been chosen to evoke the word Jesuit (especially since Herbert pronounced it with a soft G, unlike in Latin). See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bene_gesserit for more info. – Noldorin Jan 30 '11 at 11:55
  • Alia is Latin, exactly meaning “other”. As in “alias”. Also, it didn’t occur to me that Bene Gesserit was anything other than Latin as well, because it fits Latin verb declension so well. Plus, it can also translate to “she carries (a burden/burdens) well” or “she manages well” – God of Biscuits Feb 6 '20 at 1:13

The Bene in Bene Tleilax is from Arabic (they were Zensufis, remember) but probably changed through analogy with the Bene of Bene Gesserit, which is Latin.

  • 1
    Bene Gesserit translates to “she carries (a burden/burdens) well” or “she manages well”. Always thought that was especially genius, in books already full of genius. – God of Biscuits Feb 6 '20 at 1:17

Kwisatz Haderach is Hebrew, see the link.

  • aba means "father" in Hebrew.
  • Baraka was the Hebrew Jewish Prophet, Dvorah or Deborah, husband in the original Hebrew Israel scrolls (book of Deborah)
  • Bene may refer to "within" in Hebrew
  • Jihad is "holy war" to certain Islam sectors or it may refer to just "war"

Most of the phrases came from Hebrew though the shemic languages are pretty similar. When you say about someone that he made "Kwisatz Haderach" in free translation from Hebrew it means he made a major leap forward, let’s say at school. when you say a person is a "Kwisatz Haderach" in humanity you actually mean that he is the next stage of evolution.


Also the word "mishmish" appears once - it's Hebrew for "apricot(s)" but is quite possibly also from Arabic (the languages share a lot of words).

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.