I've found numerous articles about what the word "nebach" (נעבעך) means, for example here and here.

However, I have not been able to determine the true source of it.

Is this word, so commonly used in Jewish lingo, based in Tanach or have some distinctly Jewish roots (like for example the word "maven") or is it simply an adopted word from another language?

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    My conjecture - See Shmot (Ex.) 14:3 which uses the term נְבוּכִים . See Rashbam's and Ha'emek Davar's commentary (via Sefaria, e.g.) which imply the terms "confused" and "lost". In Yiddish, the term means something like "a sorry, unfortunate person", which is related, in a way, to a person who has lost a sense of direction towards a successful path.
    – DanF
    Jan 7, 2016 at 17:35
  • Please link the two "here"s in your question body.
    – DanF
    Jan 7, 2016 at 18:09
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    While OP does ask about a Biblical source, is this still a "language- only question?
    – DanF
    Jan 7, 2016 at 18:11
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1 Answer 1


According to vocabulary.com, it is a Yiddish word of Slavic origin akin to "nebohy," Czech for "wretched;" & "niebożę", Polish for "poor creature" (see also nieborak).

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