...Also, of course, Sefard/Sefardi/Sefardic/Sefardim.

I see these terms used interchangeably, and use them myself that way, but would rather use them correctly.

All are, at least marginally, pronouns. But within that, I seek a little more granularity: Which are (properly) nouns? Adjectives? Adverbs?

Please provide some sort of corroboration--not just explanation--for your answer.

  • Ashkenazim is the plural. Ashkenazic is the adjective. Ashkenaz and Ashkenazi are synonyms I would say. On the other side Sefard is something else, it refers to a Polish prayer nusach and IS NOT sefardi
    – mbloch
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 17:58
  • @mbloch Good point on "Sfard" being just a nusach. "Ashkenaz" too, no?
    – SAH
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 17:59
  • More important Sfard doesn't below in the Sefard/Sefardi/Sefardic/Sefardim line - it is something else and nusach sfard is very different from nusach sefardi (or edot hamizrach as is said in Israel)
    – mbloch
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 18:00
  • 1
    Is this on topic?
    – Double AA
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 18:03
  • 1
    @DanF in modern Hebrew Spain is Sefarad
    – mbloch
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 19:45

1 Answer 1


From this page:

The adjective "Ashkenazic" and corresponding nouns, Ashkenazi (singular) and Ashkenazim (plural) are derived from the Hebrew word "Ashkenaz," which is used to refer to Germany.

...I searched the literature for confirmation and found there were two camps:


(Opinions which agree with the above):

Dovid Katz, Yiddish and Power (here): Ashkenaz=name of an ancient civilization; Ashkenazim=people; Ashkenazi=a person; Ashkenazic=adjective

The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage (here): "Ashkenazi is the term for a Jew who settled in middle or northern Europe after the Diaspora, or that Jew's descendant. The plural is Ashkenazim, and the adjective is Ashkenazic."


(I consider these variant [identical] opinions):

Leo Rosten, The New Joys of Yiddish: Completely Updated says (here): "'Ashkenazic' is an English adaptation of 'Ashkenazi' [i.e., implying that both are adjectives --SAH]. [...] [From] Hebrew: Ashkenaz, 'Germany.'" --...But, separately, he lists "Ashkenazi/Ashkenazim (plural)/Ashkenazic (adjective)" [sic] as the three variants, implying that "Ashkenazi" is a singular noun. (The definition under this heading begins: "Ashkenazim and Sephardim are the two main branches of Jewry," which seems to confirm this interpretation.)

--In short, Leo Rosten thinks "Ashkenazi" is an adjective and/or a singular noun for a person; "Ashkenazim" is a plural noun for people; "Ashkenaz" is a place; and "Ashkenazic" is another adjective.

Sol Steinmetz, Dictionary of Jewish Usage: A Guide to the Use of Jewish Terms, p. 11, thinks the same: "The name ['Ashkenazi'] is also used as an adjective, along with Ashkenazic, as in Ashkenazi (or Ashkenazic) Jews, the Ashkenazi (or Ashkenazic) Hebrew pronunciation."

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