Dingir (?, usually transliterated DI?IR,Sumerian pronunciation: [ti?i?]) is a Sumerian word for "god." Its cuneiform sign is most commonly employed as the determinative for religious names and related concepts, in which case it is not pronounced and is conventionally transliterated as a superscript "D" as in e.g. DInanna.
The cuneiform sign by itself was originally an ideogram for the Sumerian word an ("sky" or "heaven"); its use was then extended to a logogram for the word di?ir ("god" or goddess) and the supreme deity of the Sumerian pantheon An, and a phonogram for the syllable /an/. Akkadian took over all these uses and added to them a logographic reading for the native ilum and from that a syllabic reading of /il/. In Hittite orthography, the syllabic value of the sign was again only an.
The concept of "divinity" in Sumerian is closely associated with the heavens, as is evident from the fact that the cuneiform sign doubles as the ideogram for "sky", and that its original shape is the picture of a star. The original association of "divinity" is thus with "bright" or "shining" hierophanies in the sky.
The Sumerian sign DI?IR originated as a star-shaped ideogram indicating a god in general, or the Sumerian god An, the supreme father of the gods. Dingir also meant sky or heaven in contrast with ki which meant earth. Its emesal pronunciation was dimer.
The Assyrian sign DI?IR could mean:
According to one interpretation, DINGIR could also refer to a priest or priestess although there are other Akkadian words ?nu and ?ntu that are also translated priest and priestess. For example, nin-dingir (lady divine) meant a priestess who received foodstuffs at the temple of Enki in the city of Eridu.