from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- adj. Consisting of three letters, especially of three consonants. Used chiefly of roots in Semitic languages.
- n. A three-letter word or word element.
- n. A triliteral root or word.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- adj. Used to describe word roots in Semitic languages which consist of three letters
- n. A word root in a Semitic languages which consist of three letters
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- adj. Consisting of three letters; trigrammic.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- Consisting of three letters, as a word or syllable; also, of or pertaining to what consists of three letters.
- n. A word consisting of three letters.
Sorry, no etymologies found.
Judging only by the spelling of the Hebrew name לכיש, I'd expect instead a Proto-Semitic triliteral *l-k-š/θ.
It looks like in Hellenosemitica (1965), Astour mentioned a Hittite rendering, Lakisi, together with a later Phoenician colony called Lixus (Λίξος) which, if valid, would suggest a predominantly Semitic use of the name as well as diminish my offhand triliteral alternative with theta.
So, it's not surprising that I managed to find a lead in one of Bomhard and Kern's books (see Bomhard/Kerns, The Nostratic Macrofamily (1994), p.386) which compares PIE *gʰrebʰ- "to scratch" with a list of Semitic data which suggest a triliteral skeleton *grb.
All other feet, primary or secondary, consist necessarily of seven letters, as they contain a triliteral Watad (see supra i. 2) with either two biliteral Sabab khafíf (i. 1) or a quadriliteral Fásilah
Both Mehri wēda and Akkadian wadū (variant of idū) make it uncertain whether it's appropriate to reconstruct *w- or *y- as the first radical of the Proto-Semitic (PSem) triliteral meaning “to know”1.
The triliteral wdʕ is confirmed by Johnstone/Smith, Mehri Lexicon and English-Mehri Word-list 1987, p.421.
The reason why I think this regards equations like PSem *ḥāniṭu “ripening” based on the triliteral verb root *ḥnṭ “to ripen” (c.f. *ḥinṭu “wheat, barley”) and Mid IE (MIE) *xénda “to blossom” ( PIE *h₂endʰ-).
Considering my comparison to Semitic triliteral *bwʔ, it makes me wonder if I can get away with even more direct phonetics using *h₁, instead of *h₂ as I had been proposing.
However, I notice that the initial semivowel of the triliteral *wd` is uncertain.
Compare PIE *mesg- possibly pronounced [mezɢ̰-] "to dip in water" with PSem *māsiʔu, active participle of triliteral root *msʔ "to wash".