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.
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.
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.