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The Etymology of the Avestan Hapax bix∂δra - and the Exegesis of Vidēvdād 19.21

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An analysis of Vidēvdād 19.21 based on comparison with other Avestan passages allows the conclusion to be drawn that the hapax bix∂δ ra - is used as a designation for the gōmēz, the cow's urine employed as a means of purification in the cleansing rite of the barašnom. Accordingly, a new etymological hypothesis is proposed: the noun bix∂δra- is the reflex of a PIE *bhik-tro- 'instrument of purification' (derived from a root *bheig- 'to purify') which can be directly compared with the derivational base of the Greek adjective α&phis;ıκτ&ogr;&ogr;ς'impure' recorded by Hesychius. As suggested by Eric P. Hamp, Greek α&phis;&ogr;ıβαντ&ogr;ς “impure,” and φ&ogr;îβ&ogr;ς, epithet of Apollo, can be traced back to the same root by positing that these forms contain a suffix with initial -u-.

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