Today, in Western European linguistics, the prevailing view is that the similarity of sound and meaning of the words bad and بد is a mere coincidence. In the online etymological dictionary of the English language (https://www.etymonline.com/) we find the following special note on this subject:
'Farsi has bad in more or less the same sense as the English word /bad/, but this is regarded by linguists as a coincidence. The forms of the words diverge as they are traced back in time (Farsi bad comes from Middle Persian vat), and such accidental convergences exist across many languages…'.
The author of this dictionary focuses on the uniqueness and originality of the English word bad. In his opinion, 'It has no apparent relatives in other languages'.
Meanwhile, the situation is, in our opinion, completely different. The word for “bad” is common to both languages, English and Persian. Moreover, this is the one and the same word.
The weakness of the argumentation of the English linguist is already evident in the fact that he failed to trace the origin of the word bad earlier than the 14th century AD. Moreover, he admits the fact that in the early period this word was rarely used, and instead from 15th to 17th centuries the word evil was used more often in this meaning.
In short, the true origin of the word bad for this researcher remains unknown. A word with such a wide meaning for sure has a more ancient history than a few centuries and, therefore, it could have been borrowed by English much earlier than the 13th century from one of the languages with which the ancestors of the current English-speaking people had a contact.
Such a language could well be one of the Iranian languages or its dialects.
The randomness that this researcher speaks of should be understood as follows. When the Persian word بد was formed the sound combination BAD was chosen as its sound form. There was a reason for this.
When an English word bad was formed the sound form BED was chosen, but for a different reason. The sounding of both words is almost the same, but only by chance. According to the same English etymologist, there is no causal connection between these two forms.
Their origin is supposedly different. However, a strong genetic connection between the Persian بد and the English bad does exist.
The following facts point to this connection.
1. The English bad is closely related to the English word good, with which it forms a single antonymic pair. These are two words very close in meaning. The common semantic component of each of them is “having a quality of…”.
The connection between these words is so close that the root of one of them can be used to express the meaning of another, opposite to it in the meaning of the word. For example:
not bad = fairly good
The same closely related pairs are “left” / “right”, “day” / “night”, etc.
The English good is of the same root and of the same origin as the Russian GODNY годный and has practically the same meaning “good”.
Compare GUD good and GODny годный.
The Russian GODNY годный has the word GOZHY гожий as one-root synonym. In this word we see a replacement of the sound of G by ZH. As for the root GOZH гож, it sounds similar to the Persian word KHOSH خوش , which also means “good.”
Thus, these two Russian words serve as a connecting link (bridge) between the English good and the Persian خوش or as the following sound chain:
2. The comparative of the adjective good is better.
Similarly, the Persian خوب (or خوش ) is بهتر , which sounds very similar to better. This consonance cannot be explained in any way by mere chance, since the close connection between the words good and better and خوش and بهتر was never interrupted.
3. It should be noted that the author of the mentioned above dictionary seems to contradict himself. On the one hand, he does not see the genetic link between the words bad and بد. At the same time he reports that the Persian word comes from the more ancient root vat.
“Farsi bad comes from Middle Persian vat”.
On the other hand, he is trying to derive an English word bad from practically the same root of wap. (See the article EVIL, where it is said that the modern English word bad 'widely considered to come from a Proto-Germanic reconstructed form … comparable to the Hittite huwapp- ultimately from the Proto-Indo-European form *wap-'.
4. Persian, English and Russian, which belong to the same Indo-European family of languages, have a lot of common words and roots. Such as the following:
два دو two
гусь غاز goose
бровь ابرو eyebrow
брат برادر brother
матерь مادر mother
ты تو thou
дочь دختر daughter
стоять ایستادن stand
мышь موش mouse
That is why it is quite natural and expected to assume that the English bad and Persian بد. belong to the category of cognate words or even common words.
Persian and English have a lot in common in lexical units, words and roots. There are a lot of examples like
نَو now, new
Thus, it is logical to assume that the words bad and بد. may be included in the same list.
The links between words bad and بد may be represented in the form of the following scheme:
Valery Osipov, PhD