kel- / Indo-European roots


To cover, conceal, save.

Oldest form *k̑el-, becoming *kel- in centum languages.

Derivatives include hell, hole, holster, apocalypse, eucalyptus.

I. O-grade form *kol-.
1. a. hell from Old English hell; b. Hel from Old Norse Hel, the underworld, goddess of death. Both a and b from Germanic *haljō, the underworld (< "concealed place").
2. a. hall from Old English heall, hall; b. Valhalla from Old Norse höll, hall. Both a and b from Germanic *hallō, covered place, hall.
3. Suffixed form *kol-eyo-. coleus; coleopteran, coleoptile, coleorhiza from Greek koleon, koleos, sheath.
II. Zero-grade form *kl̥-.
1. a. hold2, hull from Old English hulu, husk, pod (< "that which covers"); b. hole from Old English hol, a hollow; c. hollow from Old English holh, hole, hollow; d. haugh from Old English healh, secret place, small hollow. a-d all from Germanic *hul-.
2. a. holster from Old High German hulft, covering; b. housing2 from Medieval Latin hultia, protective covering. Both a and b from suffixed Germanic form *hulftī-.
3. Extended form *kl̥ə- becoming *klā-. clandestine from Latin clam, in secret.
4. Suffixed variant form *kal-up-yo-. Calypso1, calyptra; apocalypse, eucalyptus from Greek kaluptein, to cover, conceal.
III. Full-grade form *kel-.
1. a. helm2 from Old English helm, protection, covering; b. helmet from Middle English helmet, helmet, from a source akin to Frankish *helm, helmet. Both a and b from Germanic *helmaz, "protective covering".
2. occult from Latin occulere < *ob-kel- (past participle occultus), to cover over (ob-, over; see epi)
3. Suffixed form *kel-os-. color from Latin color, color, hue (< "that which covers").
4. Suffixed form *kel-nā-. cell, cella, cellar, cellarer; rathskeller from Latin cella, storeroom, chamber.
5. Suffixed form *kel-yo-. cilium, seel; supercilious, supercilium from Latin cilium, lower eyelid.
IV. Lengthened-grade form *kēl-. conceal from Latin cēlāre, to hide, from suffixed form *kēl-ā-.

[Pokorny 4. k̑el- 553.]


To be prominent; hill.

1. Zero-grade form *kl̥-.
a. hill from Old English hyll, hill, from suffixed Germanic form *hul-ni-;
b. holm from Old Norse hōlmr, islet in a bay, meadow, from suffixed Germanic form *hul-ma-.
2. Suffixed form *kel-d-. excel from Latin excellere, to raise up, elevate, also to be eminent (ex-, up out of; see eghs)
3. O-grade form *kol-.
a. colophon from Greek kolophōn, summit;
b. suffixed form *kol(u)men-. culminate from Latin culmen, top, summit;
c. extended and suffixed form *kolumnā-. colonel, colonnade, colonnette, column from Latin columna, a projecting object, column.

[Pokorny 1. kel- 544.]

Browse all Indo-European or Semitic roots.