Segolates are words in the Hebrew language whose end is of the form CVCVC, where the penultimate vowel receives syllable stress. Such words are called "segolates" because the final unstressed vowel is typically (but not always) segol.

These words evolved from older Semitic words that ended in a complex coda; indeed, when a suffix (other than an absolute plural) is added to a segolate, the original form (or something similar) reappears (cf. kéleḇ "dog" vs. kalbī "my dog").[citation needed]

Examples:[citation needed]

*Ancient Tiberian Stem Meaning
*ʼarṥ אֶרֶץ, אָרֶץ ʼéreṣ, ʼā́reṣ אַרְצ־ ʼarṣ- earth; land
*ʼurn אֹרֶן ʼṓren אָרְנ־ ʼorn- pine tree
*baʻl בַּעַל, בָּעַל báʻal, bā́ʻal בַּעֲל־ baʻăl- husband
*zarʻ זֶרַע, זָרַע zéraʻ, zā́raʻ זַרְע־ zarʻ- seed
*yayn יַיִן, יָיִן yáyin, yā́yin יֵינ־ yên- wine
*milḥ מֶלַח mélaḥ מַלְח־ malḥ- salt
*milk מֶלֶך méleḵ מַלְכּ־ malk- king
*kalb כֶּלֶב, כָּלֶב kéleḇ, kā́leḇ כַּלְבּ־ kalb- dog
*laḥy לֶחִי, לְחִי léḥî, ləḥî לֶחֱי־ leḥĕy- cheek; tool jaw
*ʻibr עֵבֶר ʻḖḇer עִבְר־ ʻiḇr- Eber
*ʻayn עַיִן, עָיִן ʻáyin, ʻā́yin עֵינ־ ʻên- eye
*ṣidq צֶדֶק ṣéḏeq צִדְק־ (צַדְק־?) ṣiḏq-[dubious ] righteousness

The ancient forms like *CawC (such as šawr "bull") almost universally evolved to non-segolate CôC (שׁוֹר‎ šôr), though there are exceptions, such as מָוֶתmā́weṯ "death".[citation needed]

Some segolate words' final syllable ends with a patach rather than a segol, due to the influence of guttural consonants (ה‎, ע‎, א‎, ח‎) in the final syllable.[citation needed]

Classical Arabic still preserves forms similar to the reconstructed Ancient Hebrew forms, although significantly simplified.[1] Examples include ʼarḍ "earth", kalb "dog", ʻayn "eye", ṣidq "sincerity".

Some modern dialects insert an epenthetic vowel between the final two consonants, similar to what happened in Hebrew.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Muraoka, Takamitsu (1976). "Segolate Nouns in Biblical and Other Aramaic Dialects". Journal of the American Oriental Society. 96 (2): 226–235. doi:10.2307/599825. ISSN 0003-0279. Retrieved 4 February 2024.