What does the abbreviation נ"י stand for and what is the origin of the abbreviation. Is it for both male and female use.


  • Max, welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks for bringing your question here! Could you please edit your question to include more information about where you've seen this abbreviation?
    – Isaac Moses
    May 7, 2015 at 13:00
  • possible duplicate of Abbreviations before/after names May 7, 2015 at 14:34
  • @NoachmiFrankfurt - albeit the wonderfully detailed answer there, I wouldn't say it's a duplicate, the נ"י there is being poorly addressed. May 7, 2015 at 15:13

4 Answers 4


נ"י Which is an abbreviation of נרו יאיר, literally meaning something like "His candle will shine". According to the Gemara (Shabes page 30) the Neshama of a Jew is called a candle-נר, and thus the phrase is a blessing for a person that he will influence good in the world.

In the holy Zohar, an interesting definition of the Neshama states that the Neshama is a the perfect knowledge of the way to practice the Mitzvos.

I think the common usage means "may he live long" i.e. that his Neshama's time (the candle burning) on earth will be long.

  • Do you have a source for the etymology of נרו יאיר is based on the Gemara in shabbos? Maybe it's referring to torah, and torah is likened to fire? May 7, 2015 at 11:56
  • @Mefaresh The Gemara is the source for candle meaning Neshama. What you suggest is somewhat similar to the way the Zohar defined the Neshama, since the Mitzvos are the implementation of the Tora May 7, 2015 at 11:58
  • My point was that the Gemara is not a proof, do you have an explicit source which says that נ"י is based is the Gemara. The way you present that Gemara gives the impression your are saying that נרו יאיר refers to the neshama May 7, 2015 at 12:03
  • @Mefaresh - just ask anyone who knows the phrase. The candle-Neshama correlation is common knowledge for observant Jews May 7, 2015 at 12:38
  • 1
    I understand that. Thank you. Generally on mi yodeya we try to source our claims. May 7, 2015 at 12:40

"Nero Yair" -- may his lamp illuminate.

Traditionally used after the name of a boy or young man, as a wish that he achieve spiritual growth. Afraid I don't know the earliest historical use. Usually seen in wedding invitations after the groom's name, assuming he's relatively young.

Traditional wedding invitations would use תחי׳, short for תחיה -- "may she live" -- concerning the bride. When many girls were getting married as teens, many did not survive childbirth, and there was not a formalized stress on advanced Jewish education for girls, we were more concerned with "may she live" than "may she illuminate the world with her spiritual brilliance."

With the advent of modern medicine and education, it's not-uncommon for wedding invitations of a modern bent to use נ"י for both bride and groom (though grammar would dictate it would spell neraH ya'ir for a female, may HER lamp illuminate.)

It's also not uncommon to hear a rabbi say "my son Moshe, nero yair" when telling a story about him. You could use this for a middle-schooler, high-schooler, or even college-age fellow. You wouldn't say it about 40-year-old career rabbi as the idea is he's already reached a certain level of development. (You could still say or write "shlita" after his name, meaning may he live long and well.)

  • This is an interesting explanation. If you can find a source related to the "tichye" for the bride, that would be terrific. BTW, while I see your point about not using nero yair for a Rav, I would think that this should be used and would be acompliment, as well. A rav is also called a "talmid chacham" after all, indicating that even though he is wise, he is still a Talmid - he still has much to learn. Similar idea is conveyed by "nero yair", which, IMO is a bigger bracha to a rav than "shlitah" which just implies long life without stating continue to learn and teach.
    – DanF
    May 7, 2015 at 14:52
  • I don't think this answer is accurate. Reb Noson miBreslov, in his earlier pieces in the Likutei Halachos that were written when Rebbe Nachman was still alive, refers to Rebbe Nachman as רבינו נ"י.
    – Yehuda
    Aug 17, 2021 at 2:22

It means נרו יאיר. Their light should be bright.

This is commonly found in the works of the Rishonim when referencing another authority or teacher.


It is a reference to Torah learning (sometimes written out as נירו יאיר באורה, זו תורה - May his candle (i.e. soul נר ה' נשמת אדם) shine with light, this is Torah), which is obligatory only on men, so women are not generally given that honorific. It is an honorific used while the person is alive.

It seems to go back to at least the 1700's in some form or another.

This answer is an adaptation of the answer here.


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