Irreantum – An Egyptian Language Connection

Here is a break down of the Book of Mormon word Irreantum. My family says I am a bit dramatic when I call it the most anticipated word in the Book of Mormon. But since we could not figure a better way to express it, we decided I should leave it in the video. I call it anticipated as it has the word and the translation and so far, no one has given a good explanation for it leaving it as fodder for those who wish to set aside the Book of Mormon as scripture. But it fully checks out – with more meaning to it than one would expect. It is only 5 minutes. Please watch.


1 Nephi 17:5 — And we did come to the land which we called Bountiful, because of its much fruit and also wild honey; and all these things were prepared of the Lord that we might not perish. And we beheld the sea, which we called Irreantum, which, being interpreted, is many waters.


When dealing with ancient languages, things are not always brought in to perfect matches. Therefore, there is always plausible deniability in the accuracy of the claim. Translators do the best they can with the knowledge they have and complete agreement on the meaning in ancient texts is not always achieved.

In this document, I am taking the word Irreantum in the Book of Mormon as spelled by Joseph Smith to Oliver Cowdery – the scribe.

Two suppositions are listed below:

  1. IR is a portion of the word. In the Chicago Demotic Dictionary, YR means River. My supposition is that IR = YR.
  2. UM is also used as a syllable. In the Chicago Demotic Dictionary, YM means sea. My supposition is that UM = YM. The word for sea in Hebrew is also close, YM or יָם.

When comparing an ancient word to find a match, you should be looking for similar phonology and determine if it is a close enough match.

Four Word Components

IR = YR means River

IR (yr) means River. In the context of Irreantum, it probably refers not to what we think of as a river but instead to the ocean currents which flow as a river.

Screen shot from the Chicago Demotic Dictionary

EA means Large or Great

In the Demotic world, Janet Johnson gives a definition for the word for “to be large, be great”. It is listed here as a grouping of vowel sounds that look like aoy with the “o” being optional.

Page 36 of The Grammer of Demotic by Janet Johnson

However, when stepping back to Hieroglyphs, the match seems almost perfect. The below image gives us the word for large or great to be two different versions of the “a” sound. Please recognize that the Egyptologists know that they are guessing at a lot of their phonetics.

Collier and Manley – How to Read Egyptian Hieroglyphs – Chapter 2.

The phonetics of the symbol look like e3. Both the “e” looking vowel symbol and the “3” looking symbol are phonetic are different phonetic letters both of which have a sound possibly like an English letter a. Exact pronunciation is purely guessed and this fact is taught in all books on Egyptian.

Collier and Manley – How to Read Egyptian Hieroglyphs – Chapter 1.

NT means Waters

N is the phonetics of the Egyptian water symbol. The symbol has many usages yet when two or three water symbols are combined, it actually means water. The T sound is simply an identifier that the noun is feminine. Here is a photo taken from Bill Petty’s Hieroglyphic Dictionary.

Bill Petty’s Hieroglyphic Dictionary – nt means water.

That settles it for me, NT means water.

EANT from Irreantum means Great Waters.

UM = YM means Sea

YM most likely means Sea. In the example from the dictionary below, the P3 is a male definite article for “The”. YM is the word for Sea.

Screen shot from the Chicago Demotic Dictionary

Hebrew uses the same word for sea – הים.


Putting it all together:

  • Ir – Demotic for River (probably refers to the currents of the ocean)
  • ea – Hieroglyphic for Great
  • nt – Hieroglyphic for Waters
  • um – Demotic for Sea