I've always been curious how names and words are created in literature. Having finished the main Dune books last year, I was thinking how the term "Kwisatz Haderach" came about. Did Herbert make it up, or does it have some history or explanation to it?


Kefitzat Haderech is a Jewish phrase that means "contracting the path".

Herbert defines Kwisatz Haderach as "the Shortening of the Way" (Dune: Appendix IV), clearly meaning to reference the Hebrew here.

As seen in this answer on SFF, a large quantity of names in Dune are inspired by words from Semitic languages such as Hebrew or Arabic.

  • Islam is a religion, not a language, so it doesn't make sense to talk about "Islamic words". – Rand al'Thor Jun 29 '17 at 0:06
  • @Randal'Thor names in the Koran whatever language or origin they may have. – Himarm Jun 29 '17 at 0:08
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    If you mean words from the original (not translated) version of the Koran, then say Arabic words. Islam still isn't a language. – Rand al'Thor Jun 29 '17 at 0:10

It's from the Hebrew phrase "Kefitzat Haderech", which literally means "contracting the path".

This is even more likely considering "Kwisatz Haderach" means "Shortening of the Way" in Chakosba, a language in Dune.


Actually "Kefitsat Hadderach" is a Jewish term which as said does literally mean shortening of the way and does literally refer to their prophesied Messiah, the problem is in proving that quotes from Daniel where the term Stem of Jesse, or one from the line of King David who will be Gods son and bring peace to Earth for example are good sources for citation.

  • Suffice to say 5 minutes using an internet browser makes it obvious that the Kwizats Hadderch or Hebrew: Kefitz Hadderach is the prophecied Messian in the Book Daniel, but I don't feel using biblical quotes to justify a citation is all that conducive to discussion and might be seen as trolling, even though we all know, that it is right to say it. So I will refrain from posting a citation so as not to antagonise people's religious sensibilities, saying x or y was just a prophet or the Son of God, or x is contentious and not conducive to any discussion. – Calrid Nov 9 '20 at 12:30
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    Welcome to Literature SE! This site isn't like a typical internet forum, in a couple of ways. We're very focused on facts and expert knowledge; we have a Be Nice policy which bans a lot of trolling, but there's nothing wrong with citing the Bible! As long as you respect people (e.g. don't say that religious people are ignorant, or non-religious people will burn in hell), a healthy exchange of knowledge is exactly what this site is for. If you can edit your post to add supporting citations, it could become the best answer on the page! – Rand al'Thor Nov 9 '20 at 15:19
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    The answer can be improved by adding citations. Note that the answer should also address how the term "Kwisatz haderach" ended up in Dune, which is a different question than the meaning or origin of "Kefitzat Haderech". (Due to having only 1 reputation point, you may not be able to include more than one link in your answer, but not every citation needs to be a link.) – Tsundoku Nov 9 '20 at 20:59

Like Tolkien, Herbert paid very close attention to the language of the people he described and tied those back to actual real world languages an their structures. As described above, the term "Kwisatz Haderach"makes a real life reference to Semitic language, both Hebrew and Arabic. None of the language used by the Freman is simple. Their language is more of an amalgamation of proto-Hindi, Arabic, Hebrew, and even Aramaic. The language, with some alterations exist within every planet in the Dune Universe. I imagine Imperial Standard language includes Chakosba as an influence as most people in the frame of reference are both familiar with the Orange Catholic Bible as well as the oral traditions of the Zensuni wanders and the teachings of the Bene Gesserit. "Bene", by the way is derived from the Arabic "Banū." meaning tribe or clan. Mahdi! Mahdi! As-salāmuʿalaykum.

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    While an interesting discussion, your answer doesn't really address the question of how "Kwisatz Haderach" came to be. – Gallifreyan Nov 7 '19 at 15:07

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