Does create come from the Latin word creatra?

Is it linguistically correct for a person to use the word 'Create' for other than the meaning of bringing from non-existence into existence, which is only for God? Did this word undergo a natural change over time to the extent that we recognize a new authentic meaning, like 'make' or 'construct'?

  • 6
    Bringing from no-existence into existence is only for God? This post did not exist. Now this post exists. So you are saying you are God. That won't sit well with the real God.
    – RegDwigнt
    Aug 27, 2013 at 23:21
  • Note that in Psalm 51:10 from the King James version translates "bara" as create. "Bara" denotes the creative activity of God. Perhaps this is how the idea of God came into the current understanding of this English word- "Create?" Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Mar 18, 2019 at 15:39

3 Answers 3


Origin of the verb ‘create’

‘Create’ does not come from Latin creatra; it comes from the past passive participle creātus, from the verb creāre ‘to create’. (Like all other verbs in -ate in English, which also come from a generalised participle of verbs that originally belonged in the first declension in -āre in Latin.)

This verb in itself is from a Proto-Indo-European root *ḱerh₂- whose original meaning seems to have been ‘grow’. Creāre is kind of a conflation of stem forms (full grade *ḱerh₂- > Lat. cer(i)-; zero grade ḱr̥h₂- > Lat. crā-; and vrddhi forms with ḱreh₂- > Lat. crē-), but it is in essence an old causative verb, as with nearly all verbs in the first declension in Latin: its original meaning was ‘to make [something] grow’.

Making something grow is only a small step away from creating it, and that’s the path the verb took within Latin. In Latin, thus, the sense of ‘grow’ was relegated to the original inchoative verb (‘to start growing’), crēscere, which is found in English loanwords such as ‘crescent’ (waxing or growing moon) and ‘crescendo’ (steadily growing volume/pace). In other languages, similar changes of course took place, but the root is the same as that found in Greek κόρος/κόρη kóros/kórē ‘boy/girl’ (the ones that are growing = kids) or in Icelandic hirsi ‘millet’ (‘the grower’ = a type of corn).


Meanings of the verb ‘create’

As we have already seen, the original meaning of the word has nothing to do with creation—that is an extended meaning that developed in Latin.

The specific meaning of ‘creating somethingness out of nothingness’ that you attribute to God alone is also not found in Latin—the Romans themselves used the verb for many things that they, not their gods, created.

Even if they hadn’t, it is important to note that the verb is Latin, i.e., it was used in the Roman world. The Romans did not have the same monotheistic view of the world that some people today have: creation from nothingness to somethingness was not considered a godly prerogative at all. Within Christianity, it is a commonly held belief, but this verb was used long before the Romans ever heard of Christianity. Whether one religion or the other is true, or whether one god or set of gods or the other really does exist, is quite irrelevant to this: the Romans—who used the word—were unaware of this Christianity-based restriction on the concept of creation, so naturally they did not apply it to their words.

In other words, the only shift in meaning that has occurred with the word is not one away from ‘divine-only prerogative creation’ to simply ‘making’, but rather the opposite: from any ol’ act of making, to the more limited creation that some hold only God is capable of.

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    Brilliant, +1! And a special thanks for the κόρος/κόρη I had no idea that could be traced to the same PIE root.
    – terdon
    Aug 27, 2013 at 17:08
  • The *ḱerh₂ root was called *ker-² in the 2000 AHD of PIE, which is the last edition online. Aug 27, 2013 at 18:39
  • The following seems inconsistent with the first two excellent paragraphs: > "from any ol’ act of making, to the more limited creation that some hold only God is capable of." Or can you "make something grow"? I have more to say but it doesn't fit in this comment for various reasons...
    – Conrado
    Jun 12, 2020 at 10:13
  • @Conrado By that I meant that the limited meaning of ‘creation as an act unique to God’ (which is an existing meaning of the word, though of course far from the only one) is not the original from which others were derived by broadening the meaning, but rather a narrowed down meaning derived from the original and broader meaning. So in the general sense of ‘create = make’, there was no shift in meaning from Latin onward; the only place there was a shift was in the ‘God alone’ sense. Jun 12, 2020 at 10:17
  • Thanks for the response, I think I understand your point better now. Still, this discussion is simply begging for another one about "godness" that is inextricable related (in my mind) to the "art of making"... Cheers!
    – Conrado
    Jun 12, 2020 at 10:25

The etymonline entry for create is:

late 14c., from Latin creatus, past participle of creare "to make, bring forth, produce, beget," related to crescere "arise, grow" (see crescent). Related: Created; creating.

There is no mention of God there, how is creating exclusive to God? I create things every time I cook for example. I can also create a problem if I go and punch Mike Tyson or I can create a piece of music or a software program. There is nothing in the word's meaning or etymology that restricts it to a deity. You just created a question, your question did not exist before you wrote it, how is that not "bringing from no-existence into existence"?

As far as I can tell, the original Latin meaning is the same as the current one.

  • I guess if you believe in a capital C Creator then that might indicate you're talking about a deity if you capitalize it. Your explanation is perfect: "your question did not exist before you wrote it"!
    – dcaswell
    Aug 27, 2013 at 16:59

As I understood it the verb create has its origins from the sanskrit root ''kr" meaning 'to do' and 'to make'

I cannot remember where I came across this but it seemed very plausible as there are very similar words in sanskrit derived from that root.

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