Lord is the rendering in the A.V. of several Heb. and Greek words, which have a very different import from each other. "Lord" is a Saxon word signifying ruler or governor. In its original form it is hlaford, which, by dropping the aspiration, became laford, and afterwards, by contraction, lord.
1. יהָֹוה, Yehovah', Jehovah, the proper name of the God of the Hebrews, which should always have been retained in that form, but has almost invariably been translated in the English Bible by LORD (and printed thus in small capitals), after the example of the Sept. (Κω῏/ριος) and Vulg. (Dominus). SEE JEHOVAH.
2. אָדוֹן, adon', one of the early words (hence in the early Phoenico-Greek A donis) denoting the most absolute control, and therefore most fitly represented by the English word lord, as in the A.V. (Sept. κύριος, Vulg. domimus). It is not properly a divine title, although occasionally applied to God (Ps 114:7; properly with the art. in this sense, Ex 23:13), as the supreme proprietor (Jos 3:13); but appropriately denotes a master, as of slaves (Ge 24:4,27; Ge 39:2,7), or a king, as ruler of subjects (Ge 45:8; Isa 26:13), a husband, as lord of the wife (Ge 18:12). It is frequently a term of respect, like our Sir, but with a pronoun attached ("my lord"), and often occurs in the plural. SEE MASTER.
A modified form of this word is Adonay' (אֲדוֹנָי; Sept. Κύριος, lord, master), "the old plural form of the noun אָדוֹן, adon, similar to that with the suffix of the first person, used as the pluralis excellentiae, by way of dignity, for the name of JEHOVAH. The similar form with the suffix, is also used of men, as of Joseph's master (Ge 39:2-3 sq.), of Joseph himself (Ge 42:30,33; so also Isa 19:4). The Jews, out of superstitious reverence for the name JEHOVAH, always, in reading, pronounce Adonai where Jehovah is written, and hence the letters יהוה are usually written with the points belonging to Adonai, JEHOVAH. The view that the word exhibits a plural termination without the affix is that of Gesenius (Thesaur. s.v. דון), and seems just, though rather disapproved by professor Lee (Lex. in אדון). The latter adds that "our English Bibles generally translate יהוה by LORD, in capitals; when preceded by האדון, they translate it GOD; when צבאות, tzabaoth, follows, by LORD, as in Isa 3:1, 'The Lord, the LORD of Hosts.' The copies now in use are not, however, consistent in this respect" (Kitto). "In some instances it is difficult, on account of the pause accent, to say whether Adonai is the title of the Deity, or merely one of respect addressed to men. These have been noticed by the Masorites, who distinguish the former in their notes as 'holy,' and the latter as 'profane.' (See Ge 18:3; Ge 19:2,18; and compare the Masoretic notes on Ge 20:13; Isa 19:4)." SEE ADONAI.
3. Κύριος, the general Greek term for supreme mastery, whether royal or private; and thus, in classical Greek, distinguished from θεός, which is exclusively applied to God. The "Greek Κύριος, indeed, is used in much the same way and in the same sense as Lord. It is from κῦρος, authority, and signifies 'master' or 'possessor.' In the Septuagint, this, like Lord in our version, is invariably used for 'Jehovah' and Adonai;' while θεός, like GOD in our translation, is generally reserved to represent the Hebrew 'Elohim.' Κύριος in the original of the Greek Testament, and Lord in our version of it, are used in much the same manner as in the Septuagint; and so, also, is the corresponding title, Dominus, in the Latin versions. As the Hebrew name JEHOVAH is one never used with reference to any but the Almighty, it is to be regretted that the Septuagint, imitated by our own and other versions, has represented it by a word which is also used for the Hebrew 'Adonai,' which is applied not only to God, but, like our 'Lord,' to creatures also, as to angels (Ge 19:2; Da 10:16-17), to men in authority (Ge 42:30,33), and to proprietors. owners, masters (Ge 45:8). In the New Testament, Κύριος, representing 'Adonai,' and both represented by Lords, the last, or human application of the term, is frequent. In fact, the leading idea of the Hebrew, the Greek, and the English words is that of an owner or proprietor, whether God or man; and it occurs in the inferior application with great frequency in the New Testament. This application is either literal or complimentary: literal when the party is really an owner or master. as in Mt 10:24; Mt 20:8; Mt 21:40; Ac 16:16,19; Ga 4:1, etc.; or when he is so as having absolute authority over another (Mt 9:38; Lu 10:2), or as being a supreme lord or sovereign (Ac 25:26); and complimentary when used as a title of address, especially to superiors, like the English Master, Sir; the French Sieur, Monsieur; the German Herr, etc., as in Mt 13:27; Mt 21:20; Mr 7:8; Lu 9:54." See Winer, De voce Κύριος (Erlang. 1828).
4. בִּעִל, master in the sense of domination, applied to only heathen deities, or else to human relations, as husband, etc., and especially to a person skilled or chief in a trade or profession (like the vulgar boss). To this corresponds the Greek δεσπότης, whence our "despot." SEE BAAL.
The remaining and less important words in the original, thus rendered in the common Bible (usually without a capital initial), are: גּבַיר, gebir', prop. denoting physical strength or martial prowess; שִׂר, sar, a title of nobility; שָׁלַישׁ, shalish', a military officer, SEE CAPTAIN; and סֶרֶן, se'ren, a Philistine term; also the Chald. מָרֵא, mare', an official title (hence the Syriac mar, or bishop); and רִב, rab, a general name = praefect, with its reduplicate רִברבָן, rabreban', and its Greek equivalent ῥαββονί, "Rabboni."