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What is the relationship between the following names that often go together is some combination?


I've encountered many men, young and old, with the following first and middle name combinations: Aryeh Leib, Yehudah Leib, and Yehudah Aryeh; and I know one person whose name is Ari but who goes by "Leibel". I also know of some Holocaust survivors whose "English" names (after emigrating to the U.S./Canada) were Leo and Leon, but whose "Hebrew" (and/or Yiddish) names were some combination of the above.

The first two and the last two are easy, as they are actually related: Ari and Aryeh are variants and both mean "Lion"; Leib and Leibel are the same name with just a diminutive suffix added to the former to create the latter.

I can see the connection between Ari and Aryeh to Yehudah, since the sign for the tribe of Yehudah (Judah) is the lion, based on the verse (Genesis 49:9):
"גּוּר אַרְיֵה יְהוּדָה, מִטֶּרֶף בְּנִי עָלִיתָ; כָּרַע רָבַץ כְּאַרְיֵה וּכְלָבִיא, מִי יְקִימֶנּוּ".

But where do Leib and Leibel come from?

Are they derived from Leo?

UPDATE: I can't believe I missed this prominent example (and nobody else raised it): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yehudah_Aryeh_Leib_Alter

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Thanks for asking. The Russian adaptation is "Lev", which also means "Lion", so I have a personal interest :) –  Lev Jul 30 '11 at 18:40

5 Answers 5

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Leib (as well as Label, Leibush and Loeb) is the Yiddish version of the German Name Loeb which means Lion (from the German for lion, Löwe).

The English equivalent of this name is often Leo or Leon which are root in the Latin word for lion, leo.

[Source: Kolatch, Alfred J. 1984. The Complete Dictionary of English and Hebrew First Names. Middle Village: Jonathan David. 139 and additional personal research]

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Leib is the Yiddish word for lion (aryeh).

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Wait... what? I always assumed it was from Yiddish "ליב" (dear, beloved, from the German lieb). –  Joel Spolsky Jul 25 '11 at 21:51
@Joel - That is actually the meaning in some other name-combinations. (I was thinking of mentioning this in the answer, but it seemed off topic.) In the case of Aryeh-Leib, the meaning is quite clearly "lion." –  Dave Jul 25 '11 at 22:21
Like Tzvi Hersh. –  geoffc Jul 26 '11 at 16:25
@geoffc, Hirsch with an i (yod in Yiddish). –  msh210 Jul 27 '11 at 10:00
@msh210 My wife writes Yiddish in English and it looks so weird. Though I have a terrible time reading it in Hebrew. Too many Vov's. –  geoffc Jul 28 '11 at 10:07

Perhaps Leib also comes from לָבִיא

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In the Spis Region of Slovakia, there are multiple occurrences of the Hebrew-Yiddish (or German) pairing of names with like meanings. These are most generally with connection to animals. The pairings have mostly been for men's names. For the women, it's more of having a secular name and a distinct Hebrew/Yiddish "other" name, e.g., someone with a name of Eugenia, having a Yiddish name of Shaindel.

I'm going to list my findings and would like to know what else others have come across:

-Aryeh Leib (as seen above) -Yehuda Leib (as seen above) -Dov Ber -Naftali Hirsch -Zvi Hirsch -Zeev Wolf

-Asher Selig -Shraga (Aramaic) Feivel

Some seem to paired with "nicknames" -Ephraim Fischel -Yakov Koppel -Ephraim Gimpel

So many more names, but these are examples.

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I always thought it was Leib : לב : heart


Aryeh Leib : Lion Heart

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Then it would be "Leib Aryeh." Or more correctly (in Ashkenazi pronunciation), "Leiv Aryeh." –  Dave Jul 25 '11 at 22:22

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