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?

5 Answers 5


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, 2017 at 0:06
  • @Randal'Thor names in the Koran whatever language or origin they may have.
    – Himarm
    Jun 29, 2017 at 0:08
  • 2
    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, 2017 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.


When I read the Hebrew I realized the Arabic would be pretty similar: Qabad*at aTariq (قبضت الطريق) or if using modern Arabic or dialect or Turkish/Persian pronunciation would be Qabzat aTariq, which means the path shortened. It could be Hebrew, but of course Arabic and Hebrew share so many phrases, words, and grammar from their common Semitic root it could well be both.

Actually, upon more research it seems to be Kabbalah in origin and the Arabic corresponding word would be Qafzat aTariq, jump the path, or Qafzat Atariq, the path's leap.


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, 2020 at 12:30
  • 5
    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, 2020 at 15:19
  • 2
    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, 2020 at 20:59

There are a lot of mistakes, Kwisatz Haderach in Hebrew "קפיצת הדרך" as is commonly used in the Talmud, its path undergoes a topological change that brings its two ends closer to each other. It is also expressed in Shakespeare's Sonnet 44, which deals with the power of a thought to move an easy sense to any place you wish to reach and move the thinker with it.

In addition to the experimental meaning of the phrase "Kwisatz Haderach", it is also used to describe an action done very quickly as the way of nature. In addition Kwisatz Haderach is a character capable of performing supernatural acts and seeing the paths of the future laid out before him.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.