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.

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  • 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.

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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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