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What does "unused root" mean?

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Often when I search for the origins and meanings of certain words in Tanach, I'll come across something like Strong's saying that it's from or probably from an "unused root". For example:

Strong's Exhaustive Concordance: Kenaz: Probably from an unused root meaning to hunt; hunter; Kenaz, the name of an Edomite and of two Israelites -- Kenaz.

What exactly is an "unused root" and if it's "unused", how does one determine its meaning?

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From ariel.org

What is meant by “unused” root is that though the root of the word has a specific meaning, you will not find that root meaning in literature. Only its derived meanings will be found.

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4 comments

So what derived meanings of קנז are there that mean hunt? user8078‭ about 1 month ago

@user8078 I'm not sure what you're asking for. It would be the other way around, קנז is (in theory) derived from an unused root that means hunt. Moshi‭ about 1 month ago

There's no reason to posit a meaning for a root unless it shows up in some derived word. So what derived words offer this meaning for קנז? As asked in the question: "and if it's "unused", how does one determine its meaning?" user8078‭ about 1 month ago

@user8078 I can only guess at their methods. Perhaps the structure of the word קנז was the same as the way a profession word was formed (eg. in English, even if you didn't know "hunt" you could still see that "hunt" is a root of "hunter" off the bat). Perhaps there are archaic words with the same root that I can't find because well, archaic. Basically, I can't tell you how they determined the meaning of the root of קנז without having access to whatever research they did on it. Moshi‭ about 1 month ago

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