Does anyone know what is the source of the Yiddish word Cholent?

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  • 1
    the word is not yiddish, it is french – user5535 Jun 5 '14 at 12:03
  • @user5535 It's definitely Yiddish (and not [currently] French, as far as I know) – SAH May 26 '16 at 10:47

From Wikipedia:

Max Weinreich traces the etymology of cholent to the Latin present participle calentem, meaning "that which is hot" (as in calorie), via Old French chalant (present participle of chalt, from the verb chaloir, "to warm"). One widely quoted folk etymology, relying on the French pronunciation of cholent or the Central and Western European variants shalent or shalet, derives the word from French chaud ("hot") and lent ("slow"). Another folk etymology derives cholent (or sholen) from the Hebrew she’lan, which means "that rested [overnight]". This refers to the old time cooking process of Jewish families placing their individual pots of cholent into the town baker's ovens that always stayed hot and slow-cooked the food overnight.


Someone I know insists it's abbreviated from the English chow left overnight. (I'm almost sure he's kidding.)


The Chaim SheYesh Bohem mentions in the name of the Or Zarua that it comes from ״צלי-לן״ = ״צלנט״ that the food rested on the fire overnight.


There is an old British myth (e.g. not true) that it comes from 'shule end' since the children were sent to retrieve the cholent pot from the communal cooking ovens after the end of synagogue services. The Book of Jewish Food by Claudia Roden, page 146


According to my research, it is likely derived from the French word chalant, as mentioned in Dave's answer. I once taught a Cholent workshop, which included a history of both the food and the word. It was a really fun class; about 50% involved making and tasting Cholent.


FWIW, I always thought that chaud lent (hot and slow in French) made the most sense.

Sefardim call their overnight slow-cooked stew "Chamin", which derives from "Cham" - Hebrew for hot.

In any case, all of the funny explanations of the word make me think that the root of it can't be Hebrew.

  • Did you mean this to be a comment on Dave's answer? Or on Gershon Gold's? Or on the question? It doesn't look like it was meant to be posted as an answer. – msh210 Jan 19 '12 at 21:03
  • It would have been a meatier (pun intended) answer, if there were not several other good answers posted above. – user1095 Jan 19 '12 at 21:28

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