we're all familiar with the spelling pesach. But I recently saw the word Pessah, I guess a name.

I know there's the scientific transliteration that replaces chet with 'h' rather than 'ch'.

But in the scientific transliteration i'd have thought pesach would be more like pesah.

Almost everybody I know spells it Pesach.

Who spells it pessah? and who spells it pesah?

Is one of them(pessah? pesah?) a common sephardi spelling ('cos sephardi pronunciation pronounces the chet less of a ch)

is one of them the scientific transliteration? or close to the scientific transliteration?

  • What do you mean "scientific"? Oct 23, 2014 at 17:08
  • 3
    This question appears to be off-topic because it seems unrelated to any Jewish topic. Clarify the question context.
    – DanF
    Oct 23, 2014 at 17:23
  • @DanF you're not aware jews have a language called hebrew that judaism considers holy/special? and that hebrew can be written with english letters, and there are conventions and in academic circles even a standard way
    – barlop
    Oct 23, 2014 at 20:01
  • @DanF, I would argue it is on topic because it is about how to express a Jewish name or a Jewish holiday in English and writing about Jewish holidays is a Jewish practice. Barlop, The fact that is about Hebrew does not make it on topic unless it relates to Judaism, whatever Judaism thinks of Hebrew.
    – Yishai
    Oct 23, 2014 at 20:27
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    barlop -- There is a Yiddish girl's name "Pessah," that may or may not be related to פסח. (I don't know if it is or is not) [ cc @Gary ]
    – MTL
    Oct 24, 2014 at 0:52

1 Answer 1


I would guess that the name that you saw is a Yiddish name called פעשע or פעשא. For example. It is Yiddish for Passover and used as a girl's name.

Although a more typical transliteration would be Pesche, you certainly see anglicized versions of a Shin as a double ss.

Or, it could have been a french transliteration of Pesach (or come through french). For example.

Pesach (the holiday in Hebrew) is typically a boys name and more typically Sefardi (although it is common enough for ashkenazim). Pesche is a girls name and (obviously) Ashkenazi.

  • 1
    I know plenty of Ashkenazi people named Pesach Oct 23, 2014 at 17:08
  • +1 for pointing out it could be Yiddish. I am reminded of the Sholem Aleichem character Peysi, the deceased father from מאָטל פּייסי דעם חזנס" כתבֿים פֿון אַ ייִנגל אַ יתום Motl Peysi dem khazns; ksovim fun a yingl a yosem (Motl, Pessi the Cantor's Son)." Can be found in Yiddish here
    – Mike
    Oct 24, 2014 at 0:13
  • hmm, yiddish for passover. I know they pronounce some vowels differently in yiddish to hebrew.. but that has different letters too. I guess they came up with another word for pesach For example, Yaakuv is yiddish for Yaakov. sucus is yiddish for succot/succose. but for succus and yaakuv they didn't change the spelling, they just pronounced the cholam differently.
    – barlop
    Jul 27, 2015 at 8:56
  • Your link Yiddish for Passover doesn't corroborate your claim. It'd be worth checking Alexander Beider's dictionary of Ashkenazic given names.
    – magicker72
    Aug 6, 2019 at 4:57
  • @magicker72 it used it web.archive.org/web/20111205091955/http://www.kveller.com/…
    – Yishai
    Aug 6, 2019 at 11:40

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