The word greedy comes from the Indo-European root *gher which meant something like to like/want (source).

This is also the root for the incredibly common German word gern and other every day German words. I really let my fantasy roam freely but I was not able to find another English word with that origin. I would find this quite surprising to see that a root with such a basic meaning almost entirely vanishes. So my questions is:

Does anyone know of other words that have the same origin (no matter, if they are imports from Latin)?

2 Answers 2


At your source (etymonline for greed), if you enter gher or gher- or *gher- as the search term you can find other words that stem, eventually, from Indo-European root *gher- in its sense to like, want, such as Eucharist, yearn, hortatory, charisma.

Note that PIE *gher- is shown in etymonline with several additional senses:
• “to scrape, scratch” in the etymologies of gash and character
• “to bristle” for arugula and urchin
• “to grasp, enclose” for cohort, chorus, yard
• “to call out” for greet

  • Awesome!!! I didn't know about that function and it'll be incredibly helpful to me. Thanks a billion
    – Emanuel
    Commented Aug 6, 2013 at 15:38
  • on second thought... how trustworthy is Etymonline... is it more like Merriam Webster or more like dict.cc?
    – Emanuel
    Commented Aug 6, 2013 at 15:42
  • 1
    See the etymonline PRINCIPAL SOURCES page, which lists books by Barnhart, Buck, Cassidy, ... OED2 ... Zoëga. I've run into a small number of misspellings and mis-links (which were corrected within a couple of days after I sent a notice). I've seen relatively few errors besides those minor ones. Commented Aug 6, 2013 at 15:55

There is yearn for which OED has

yearn : Old English, Northumbrian giorna, Mercian geornan, West Saxon giernan, corresponding to Old Saxon girnean, gernean, Old Norse girna (see green v.2), Gothic gaírnjan, related to Old English georn, Gothic -gaírns : see yern adj. and yere v.

yere Middle English ȝere, representing an Old English *gerian = Old Frisian geria, ieria, Old Saxon gerôn (Middle Low German geren), Old High German gerôn, -ên, -ân (Middle High German geren, gern, be-gern, German begehren) to desire, related to Old High German, Middle High German ger, Old Norse gerr greedy (compare Old High German girî, German gier desire, Old High German girîg, German gierig desirous, covetous, etc.); < Germanic ger-, whence also yern adj., yearn v.1

This has a meaning related to want or desire.

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