I noticed that the names of some Masechtot have an Aramaic plural ending - nun - such as "Gittin", while others have a Hebrew ending - mem - such as "Bikurim". Was there some pattern or logic in deciding which masechtot get which type of ending.

Note - Offhand, I think this differentiation applies only to masechtot that have a plural "masculine" ending. "Menachot" and "Avot" have feminine endings and are Hebrew endings. (I can't think of what the Aramaic female plural ending would be. If someone knows, please comment, and I will edit the question.)

"Sanhedrin" is of Greek origin, and I'm not sure why that has an Aramaic ending, unless the entire word is Greek.

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    @Matt - Very good question. I intentionally didn't ask this, b/c I think Ramba"m explains the names of all the Masechtot, or at least most of them - explaining why some are plural and others aren't. While I was learning Daf Yomi, I know he explained why it's called P'sachim. Because the Masechta talks about both the regular Korban Pesach as well as Pesach Sheni. In many cases, the plural is obvious such as "Brachot" and "Menachot".
    – DanF
    Commented Jul 17, 2014 at 15:42
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    he does explain one or two, and the meiri does a few more, and tosfos once or twice... Commented Jul 17, 2014 at 15:57
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    Note that -in is also a Hebrew suffix (borrowed from the Aramaic).
    – msh210
    Commented Jul 17, 2014 at 16:22
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    @msh210 Try the end of Daniyel
    – Double AA
    Commented Jul 28, 2014 at 18:03
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    Honestly, it might just have to do with colloquial nature of Hebrew in Mishnaic times. If you read the Mishna, it has a huge amount of Aramaic influence, so maybe the Aramaic words were just more commonly used than their Hebrew alternatives.
    – rosenjcb
    Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 16:00

1 Answer 1


I agree with rosenjcb. The other thing to note is that some words are just easier to say than others, so it would have been natural for the easier version to become the preferred version - personally, I find gittin is much easier to say than gittim. I'm surprised more of the endings aren't Aramaicized, since -in is generally easier than -im.

Regarding the word Sanhedrin, the whole word is Greek, that's not an Aramaicized ending.

And this is just a guess, but my assumption is that well-known terms from Torah would remain unchanged even if Aramaic translations would have been more natural to Aramaic speakers - bikkurim, avot, pe'ah, shkeylim, etc. Words like kiddushin (esp in reference to marriage) and gittin (in plural form) aren't mentioned in Torah.

  • Welcome to Mi Yodeya, Ariann, and thanks for your answer! You might want to check out some of the answers to this question, which back up your claim about the etymology of the word "Sanhedrin." I hope to see you around the site! :)
    – MTL
    Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 1:58
  • Your guess regarding Torah-used words, has some merit, actually. Not something I thought about. I'd have to research the idea further, though.
    – DanF
    Commented Feb 1, 2015 at 3:28
  • There is also the fact that certain verses or strata of the Talmud were written later or earlier than others, and this causes a lot of differences in spelling. The more time went on, the more Aramaic and Hebrew mixed, the more things got mixed. Especially as Aramaic started developing into a distinct accent that cause its spelling to start changing as the writers of the Talmud spelled Aramaic the way they heard it. For more sources and information, see this free class with source sheets: webyeshiva.org/course/aramaic-grammar
    – Aaron
    Commented May 21, 2015 at 23:02

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