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Semitic etymology :

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Number: 2543
Proto-Semitic: *t_VʕVl- ~ *t_aʕlab-
Afroasiatic etymology: Afroasiatic etymology
Meaning: fox
Akkadian: šēlebu (šellebu, šēlabu, šālibu) 'fox; a star; a fish; a bird or locust' OAkk. on [CAD š2 268], [AHw. 1210]. In OAkk. as a personal name only. More details on later attestations see in [Salonen Jagd 202f., 262f.]. The existence of a fem. parallel to š. is questionable. In [CAD š2 270] šēlebūtu (šīlibūtu) 'vixen' (OB on) is quoted whereas in [AHw. 1210] the respective attestations are listed under šeleppūtu 'turtle'. The only pertinent passage (YOS 10 56 III 12, OB izbu) šumma izbum kīma ši-li-bu-ti is indeed ambiguous (though, admittedly, KA5.A ūlid in the SB version might favour CAD's rendering). On the other hand, šēlebtu 'Füchsin' (SB) in [AHw. 1210] is poorly documented: the reading of the logogram MÍKA5.A is unknown whereas on hesitates to agree with von Soden's in assuming that the Akk. word for 'vixen' was used as a designation of an agricultural tool (cf. the reading šelliptu in [CAD š2 273]).
Ugaritic: t_ʕlb ?
Hebrew: šūʕāl 'fox; jackal' [KB 1445] (with zoological discussion), pB. [Ja. 1538]. A form going back to *t_aʕlab- is thought to be attested in the toponym šaʕalb_īm and related [KB 1611-2].
Aramaic: Anc. šʕl 'fox, jackal' [HJ 1179]. Hapax in KAI 222 A 33 (among animals inhabiting ruins), v. [Fitzmyer 90]. D.-Alla š[ʕl] 'fox' [Hackett 134]. In combination gry š[ʕl] 'cubs of a fox' (v. [ibid. 51] for arguments in favour of this reconstruction). Off. tʔlh, tʔrh [HJ 1179]. In Farh IX 6 (tʔlh, = rōpāh) and 8 (tʔrh k_zbʔ 'false fox', i.e. 'jackal', = tōrak), v. [Nyberg 73-4].
Judaic Aramaic: taʕal, taʕălā, tǝʕālā 'jackal, fox' [Ja. 1683], [Levy WT II 548], [Levy WTM IV 657]; tʕl (taʕălā) 'fox' [Sok. 587].
Syrian Aramaic: taʕlā 'vulpes' [Brock. 830], [PS 4474].
Mandaic Aramaic: tala 'fox' [DM 478] (taʕlab [ibid. 480] is an obvious Arabism).
Arabic: t_uʕāl- 'renard', t_uʕāl-at- 'renard femelle' [BK 1 225], [Fr. I 218], [Lane 237] (in [LA XI 84] only t_uʕālat- and t_uʕal-, both interpreted as 'vixen', with discussion); t_aʕlab- (pl. t_aʕālin) 'renard', t_aʕlab-at- 'renard femelle' [BK 1 225], [Fr. I 218], [Lane 338], [LA I 237].
Mehri: yǝt_áyl 'fox' [JM 462].
Jibbali: it_ʕél id. [JJ 282].
Harsusi: yet_áyl id. [HJ 148].
Notes: Cf. Amh. šäla 'marten, ferret (fig. cunning and devious per- son)' [K 602], šälan id. [ibid. 607], Gog. selä 'kind of wild animal (it eats chicken)' [LGur. 542]. Of interest is Ebl. ba-ti-um = KA5.A [MEE 4 1249], tentatively compared to Akk. šēlebu in [Civil Ebla 91]. While the lack of -l in the cuneiform rendering of /baʕtilum/ is unproblematic, T-sign for an etymological t_ is highly unusual. [Fron. 293]: *t_aʕlab-, *t_uʕāl- 'volpe' (Mhr., Jib., Arb., Syr., Hbr., Akk.); [KB 1445]: Hbr., Arm., Arb., Akk.; [Brock. 830]: Syr., Jud., Hbr., Arb., Akk.; [Hommel 310]: Arb., Hbr., Akk., Syr. (with discussion on possible relatonship with Pers. šaɣāl, Sanskr. srigāla); [Firmage 1153]: Akk., Hbr., Arm., Arb.

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