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?

  • 2
    There are also (even more) Latin/Roman-inspired phrases/terms, as well as Arabic ones.
    – Noldorin
    Jan 30, 2011 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, 2011 at 23:53

7 Answers 7


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 Jan 28, 2011 at 17:32
  • @Steve Melnikoff: Seems to be strictly Arabic? I didn't mention "qaid" for the same reason.
    – chaos
    Jan 28, 2011 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, 2011 at 11:53
  • 3
    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, 2011 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” Feb 6, 2020 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. Feb 6, 2020 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"

Native Hebrew speaker here.

I went through the glossary / terminology of the book and and tried to speculate what could be derived from Hebrew. As others mentioned here before, Hebrew and Arabic are both Semitic languages, and so many words may sound similar; however, knowing either of the languages does not by any means provide you with sufficient knowledge of understanding the other one.

Sounds like Hebrew and probably is:

  • Arafel (ערפל) - "fog" or "mist" in Hebrew.
  • Behemoth.
  • Bene - "B'nei" (בני) in Hebrew means "sons of", like Bene Israel.
  • Bene Gesserit - I understand this is controversial, but to me it seems to be most likely Hebrew. In the Hebrew translation of the book (from 1976), this is translated as "Bnot Gishrit" (בנות גשרית), which is just the more accurate Hebrew pronunciation (though "bnot" is "daughters of" and not "sons of", which makes sense as they are all female). "Gishrit" just means "of bridge" or "bridge like" in a feminine tense, which very much fits the role of the order.
  • Cherem - Herem in Hebrew.
  • Kadesh.
  • Leb Kamai - "Lev" (לב) in Hebrew is "a heart", "Kamai" (קמאי) could be the arcane word for "primeval".
  • Kedem.
  • Kwisatz Haderach - "Kfitzat" means "jump of", "Ha" means "the" and "derech" means "road/path/route/way". "Kfitzat derech" (קפיצת דרך), without "Ha'", means "breakthrough"; however, with the "Ha'" (קפיצת הדרך), this refers to an expression in Judaism which means "fast transition from place to place by miracle", and "Kfitza" is not to be taken literally, but as to mean "shortening", as if shortening the passage between places.
  • Ze'eb - "Ze'ev" (זאב) in Hebrew is "a wolf".

Arabic but sounds like Hebrew too:

  • Abu - "father" in Arabic, "Aba" (אבא) in Hebrew.
  • Alam - "world" in Arabic, "Olam" (עולם) in Hebrew.
  • Bahr - "body of water" in Arabic, "Be'er" (באר) in Hebrew is "a well".
  • Baraka - "blessing" in Arabic, "Bracha" (ברכה) in Hebrew.
  • Hajra, Harj - Hegira in Arabic, "Hagira" (הגירה) in Hebrew is "migration".
  • Ke'leb - "Kalb" in Arabic is "dog", "Kelev" (כלב) in Hebrew.
  • Well actually there's more but you get the gist.

Sounds like Hebrew but probably isn't:

  • Aba - Again, "father" (אבא) in Hebrew. Maybe it's like the robe that fathers in a religious order wear?
  • Ach - "brother" (אח) in Hebrew.
  • Alia Cult - Maybe derived from Aliyah?
  • Arrakis - Sounds like Arak. Not Hebrew (but a common drink in Israel).
  • Auqaf - Sounds like 'Ukaf' (אוכף), which is "a saddle".
  • Derch - "Derech" (דרך) in Hebrew is "road/path/route/way" (just like in "Kwisatz Haderach").

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 and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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