Nun is believed to be derived from an Egyptian hieroglyph of a snake (the Hebrew word for snake, nachash begins with a Nun and snake in Aramaic is nun) or eel. Some have hypothesized a hieroglyph of fish in water as its origin (in Arabic, nūn means large fish or whale). The Phoenician letter was named nūn "fish", but the glyph has been suggested to descend from a hypothetical Proto-Canaanite naḥš "snake", based on the name in Ethiopic, ultimately from a hieroglyph representing a snake,
(see Middle Bronze Age alphabets). Naḥš in modern Arabic literally means "bad luck". The cognate letter in Ge'ez and descended Semitic languages of Ethiopia is nehas, which also means "brass".