Are the words ציפור (bird) and ציפורן (finger nail OR a spice [found in k'tores]) etymologically related? I heard that both were connected to the root צ.פ.ר (arise) or to anatomical protuberance but I don't understand either of these suggestions.

  • 3
    Tziporen is also some sort of plant or part of a plant (listed in the k'tores), btw.
    – msh210
    May 22, 2011 at 16:29
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    @msh210 the Chabad English translation of Siddur Tehillat Hashem translates Tziporen as Onycha. This wikipedia article discusses a connection between the nail and the spice: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onycha
    – Menachem
    Mar 14, 2012 at 19:03

1 Answer 1


R' Hirsch on Gen. 7:14 had a similar conjecture:

The derivation of צפור is obscure. It is to be found in צפורן, nail, and in צפיר, synonymous with שעיר the hairy one, the goat. So that צפור could be the bird called after its covering with feathers, the feathered one. The root צפר would then be common for nails, hair and feathers which are all three really derivatives fundamentally from the same tissue, (the epidermis I.L.).

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