I read at Wiktionary https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/wehen

that in proto-germanic there is the word *wēaną which I suspect (Well, I don't know for sure as I don't know any live Proto-Germanic speaker) sounds similar to swedish "att vina" in the sentence "vinden viner om hösten" = "der Wind weht im Herbst".

So to the question is this proto-germanic word a common root for these two words or can such a root be found elsewhere?

  • This is mostly a question about Swedish, right? Then it's not really on-site topic here.
    – Carsten S
    Commented Mar 4, 2019 at 16:13
  • There is no need for sarcasm. There are good questions for which there is no SE site.
    – Carsten S
    Commented Mar 4, 2019 at 18:30
  • That is not onomatepoetic and also doesn't say so. Just a normal verb, maybe a bit old. Commented Mar 4, 2019 at 20:00
  • The etymology of German words is on topic. The verb wehen is a German word. Comparing words from related languages is an important part of etymology. So I think: This question is on topic. Commented Mar 5, 2019 at 7:36
  • There are two Swedish dictionaries with etymologies here, but an answer has pointed out that this may be the wrong word: svenska.se/tre/?sok=vina&pz=1
    – Carsten S
    Commented Mar 6, 2019 at 8:41

2 Answers 2


Yes, the words have a common root. The question is perhaps a bit confusing, since there are several very similar, but unrelated word in the Swedish language.

The first word, has as mentioned in the comments to the question, probably an onomatopoeic origin and is a cognate to English 'whine' or German 'weinen'. This is not the word, which is asked about in the question.

In the second meaning, it is an alternative spelling of 'att vinda', a directly related verb form of 'vind' (wind) in the meaning 'what the wind is doing'. I would say that the usage is slightly exalted and not common. The usual expression would be to say that 'vinden blåser om hösten' with 'blåser' as a cognate to 'blow' or 'blasen'. This is the word used in the mentioned sentence.

We must also be careful not to confuse the previous meaning of 'att vinda' with yet another unrelated word 'att vinda', a cognate to 'wind' or 'winden' in the meaning turn or wrap around. Even if very similar in all three languages, this word actually has a different etymology than the word for moving air.

Then we have the German word 'wehen', which is cognate to Swedish 'vaja'. I first thought that we here may have English cognates in 'wave' or 'waft', but those words seem to have different origins. In Swedish, the word has a more restricted meaning than in German. In German, the word can both have an active meaning 'der Wind weht' (the wind is blowing) and a passive meaning as in 'die Flagge weht im Wind' (the flag is blowing in the wind) as in the action imposed upon the flag by the wind. In Swedish, the word can only be used in the passive meaning as in 'flaggan vajer i vinden' and not in the active meaning. A Swedish sentence like 'vinden vajar' would not make sense.

And then back to your actual question: The words 'vinda', 'vind' und 'vaja' (and therefore also German 'Wind' and 'wehen') can according to 'Svenska akademiens ordbok' be traced back to Sanskrit 'vāti' (to blow) and have a common origin.

  • Yep vaja is another related word, you can say it for example about the flagpole is waving (moving back and forth) in the wind. Flaggstången vajar i vinden. Commented Mar 6, 2019 at 13:12

A better resource for German words is German wiktionary: https://de.wiktionary.org/wiki/wehen

There you find a section about »Herkunft« (which is etymology), and there you get this information:

  • mittelhochdeutsch (Middle High German, MHG): wæ(je)n
  • althochdeutsch (Old High German, OHG): wā(h)en
  • gotisch (Gothic): waian
  • germanisch (Germanic): *wǣ-ja-
  • indogermanisch (Indo-European): *hwē-

    Also compare: Ventil, Wetter, Wind

An even better etymologic section can be found in DWDS (Digitales Wörterbuch der Deutschen Sprache): https://www.dwds.de/wb/wehen

The section is titled Etymologie and is much longer than in Wiktionary. These are basic facts from this resource:

  • OHG: wāen, wāhen (8th century)
  • MHG: wæjen, wægen, wæn, weien (to be windy)
  • Middle Low German: weien, weigen
  • Middle Dutch: waeyen
  • Dutch: waaien
  • Old Frisian: wāia
  • Old English: wāwan
  • Gothic: waiwan
  • Germanic: *wējan

related are:

  • Vedic Sanskrit: vā́ ti (to blow, to waft, to wave (in the wind))
  • Greek: ἀῆναι (aḗnai) (to blow, to waft, to wave (in the wind))
  • Old Slavic: vějati
  • Russian: веять (véjat’) (to blow, to winnow, to fan)

An Older root (also for wallen (to flutter, to bubble, to boil), Wedel (front), Wetter (weather) and Wind (wind)):

  • Indo-European: *u̯ē- (to blow, to waft, to wave (in the wind), to aspirate)

I also looked for the swedish verb "att vaja", but I didn't find an etymology in Swedish wiktionary, so I tried the English wiktionary, ant there I found this:

From Dutch waaien, from Proto-Germanic *wēaną, from Proto-Indo-European *h₂weh₁-.

In the etymology of German wehen neither Proto-Germanic nor Proto-Indo-European are listed, but the Dutch version is in the list, and it is the same word that is listed in the etymology of the Swedisch verb att vaja.

So I dare to say:

There is a common Proto-Germanic root for German "wehen" and Swedisch "att vaja". It is:


Other common roots from other eras can be found in the text above.

  • 2
    Could you also mention the Swedish word in the question?
    – Carsten S
    Commented Mar 5, 2019 at 10:21
  • 1
    Why are you mentioning the Swedish word 'vaja'? The question is about 'vina'.
    – jarnbjo
    Commented Mar 5, 2019 at 14:45
  • en.wt does list PGem and PIE. De.wiktionary is far inferior when it comes to Herkunft at least.
    – vectory
    Commented Mar 5, 2019 at 16:40
  • Yep as mentioned vaja is not same as vina, but quite fascinating even such distant language as Russian has a cousin to vaja. Commented Mar 6, 2019 at 13:10

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