Questions tagged [etymology]

About the history and origins of words.

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What is the meaning of the name Yishai (Hebrew: יִשַׁי – Yišay, in pausa יִשָׁי‎ – Yišāy) translated into English as Jesse

The question arises from research I have been conducting into Jesse, who came from Bethlehem in Judah, and who was the father of David. 1 Sam 17:12 (JPS): Now David was the son of that Ephrathite of ...
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Is there a particular reason Ezra HaSofer name is spelled with an "א" instead of with a "ה"?

In 1st Chronicles 4:17, a man from the tribe of Yehudah by the name of Ezrah is listed as follows: And the sons of Ezrah: Jether, and Mered, and Epher, and Jalon. And she bore Miriam, and Shammai, ...
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What does the word "חַיִל" mean?

Gideon was famously called "a Mighty Man of Valor" by the Malach/Messenger and the word is most famously utilized in Proverbs 31 in the description of the Virtuous Woman. Doing research into ...
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What's the connection between שחר (morning/light) and שחור (black)?

How do we understand the connection between שחר (morning/light) and שחור (black) which seem to be opposites of the spectrum? (The definition should also be able to fit into 'shaver' as Rashi in Beitza ...
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Evolution of the Term "Ger"

According to Plaut ("The Torah a Modern Commentary", Revised Edition, p. 530) the term "ger" has changed over time. Ger was the term applied to resident non-Israelites who could ...
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Origin of the use of "G-d"

I'm wondering about the earliest uses of the abbreviation "G-d". Obviously, it's used as an extension to avoiding saying Hashem's name in vain, but was this practice common from the ...
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Do some scholars believe that "לנבא" ("lenabe") meant "to philosophise"/"to entertain"/"to dramatise"?

I read with interest Julian Jaynes' Bicamerlism book where he claims that lenabe was mistranslated as "to prophetise" in LXX which also influenced Jewish thought. Later on, I wrote out of ...
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Is there any evidence of a Jewish demon named Khoyzek?

The Yiddish term khoyzek refers a "mockery" of something else. According to Dov Sadan (cited here) this word derives from Khoyzek a demon in Jewish folklore. I looked high and low and could ...
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Etymology of קטלא (necklace, in משניות מעילה)

The mishna, M'ila 5:1, discusses a woman wearing a קטלא, which the commentary Yachin and the one by Rambam say means a necklace made of or with gold. I wonder what the etymology of this word is, since ...
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What's the connection between Aravos and Heaven?

What is the connection between the Aravos we take as part of the daled minim on Sukkos and the Aravos of Heaven which the Almighty "rides" on? Tehillim (68:5) שִׁירוּ לֵאלֹהִים זַמְּרוּ ...
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What is the etymology of the name Teradion (as in R. Haninah ben Taradion)? [closed]

The name sounds Greek, and this Teradion would probably have lived in the first or second centuries under Roman occupation. That being said, since it's a Greek name, are there any other examples of ...
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Where can I find how many roots the author needs to compose for each book of the Tenach

For example: I am reading now the book of Joshua in Hebrew. It looks to me quite simple language. The author uses often the same terms. Poetry and wisdom-litterature is much more complex. My ...
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Birkat Halevana vs. Kiddush Levana

Where are the origins of calling this Beracha "Kiddush" Levana, and what does it mean? I have seen that Rabbi Yosef Qafih in his commentary to Maimonides’s Guide for the Perplexed (Vol. 2 Chapter 5 ...
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What is the meaning of the name "Miriam"?

What's the meaning of the name "Miriam"/"מרים"? I thought it might be from the root "מרי", which means "rebellion", in which case the name means "their rebellion", which might reflect Miriam/Puah and ...
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What is the etymology of the name Jesse?

I can find multiple possible etymologies for the name Jesse/יִשַׁי Yishai: "King" "Wealth/Abundance" "G-d's gift" "G-d Exists" [From יש Yesh ("there is&...
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The word Yamakah [closed]

I’ve looked all over the internet for the origin of the word Yamaka. I guess you could also spell it yamakah. I’m so confused because I grew up using it and people I speak with still use it. However, ...
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Connection Between Liver & Honor?

Seeing that lashon hakodesh allows for analyzing the connection between similar rooted words, what is the connection between liver (כבד) and honor (כבוד)?
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Why is a Shechitah Knife termed a Chalaf?

In the Diaspora the Shechitah knife is termed "Chalef". What is the origin of this word? When was this word first used and where was this first first used?
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Why the principal (money) is called Keren?

In all kinds of monetary transactions, the main part is called Keren or for the reward for Mitzvot as in Kesubos 3,9: "הָאוֹמֵר גָּנַבְתִּי וְטָבַחְתִּי וּמָכָרְתִּי, מְשַׁלֵּם אֶת הַקֶּרֶן עַל ...
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What is the literal meaning of the 42 encampments in the wilderness?

As written in Bamidbar 33, we read of the 42 places in which the people were encamped. I know that some have attributed the 42 encampments to the 42 letter name of Hashem. But I wanted to know the ...
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Ibn Ezra: Moshe = Monius?

Ibn Ezra in his commentary to Shemos 2:10 says that the name Moshe was a translation of the Egyptian "Monius". I have, then, two questions: 1) Where does he get that his name was that? And 2) how is ...
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Whence "בחזקת בשרי"?

Besides the main categories of meat, dairy, and pareve (non-meat, non-dairy) foods, two special subcategories of pareve foods are relevant to halacha (e.g. Yore Dea 93): pareve food cooked using clean ...
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What is the etymological definition of הגיס?

What is the etymology and definition of הגיס? (Reference Rashi in Chulin 108A ד״ה טיפת חלב שנפלה על החתיכה and ד״ה ניער את הקדרה)
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Source and etymology of כפירה kefirah ‘heresy’

Can someone inform me of where the word כפירה meaning ‘heresy’ was first used? Mishnah? Talmud? Word is not found in Tanach, apparently. How is it distinguished from other triliteral roots meaning ...
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A heap of people and ingathering of food

Is there any connection between the word אסף (to gather, collect) and אסם (literally a barn or storehouse but could be from an unised root meaning to heap up). I wondered because there is a feast in ...
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Orah, Or and Torah

I found this on the Aish website: The accurate meaning of “Torah” is twofold. Firstly it comes from the word “הוֹרָה,” which means teaching. More precisely it means “teaching with direction,” i.e. ...
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Expressing benefit in the Pentateuch

Regarding the prohibition of deriving benefit from a murderous animal (shor haniskal), the gemara (e.g. Bava Kamma 41a) suggests (in an initial interpretation) that, from the fact that the Torah uses ...
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Why is אותו מקום referred to as the מקום התורף? What does תורף mean?

In Bavli Berachot 24a (and Shabbat 64b), the Gemara records that: כל המסתכל באצבע קטנה של אשה כאילו מסתכל במקום התורף -- Anyone who gazes upon a woman’s little finger is considered as if he gazed ...
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Origin of Histakel Be'Oraisa Uvara Alma

The term "Histakel Be'Oraisa Uvara Alma" is often invoked when discussing chassidus or metaphysics. Literally translated, it means "[Hashem] gazed in[to] the Torah and created the world." While the ...
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What is the meaning of the name Lemech?

In Bereshis 4:18 Lemech is introduced. Do any commentators explain the meaning or implication of his name?
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Etymologic origins of "Maimouna"

Maimouna, the day after Pesach, is probably the most well-known of the isru chag traditions. It originated with the Jews of North Africa, and these days Israelis honour it by making barbecues. ...
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The afflicted, poor and humble a reference to the command to afflict oneself on Yom Kippur

How do we know that 'v'initem' (Leviticus 16:31) includes fasting in the context of Yom Kippur? How does this usage relate to usage of the word, or related words, in other contexts? Some food for ...
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The name Nataliyah/Natali (is it Jewish?) [closed]

Where does the name Natalia come from? I ask this because many many Jewish girls, even religious ones, use this as a name. I always thought that it is a feminine version of Naftali, is that true? Or ...
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2 votes
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what is the etymology of "Nebat"?

Brown Driver Briggs, usually unabashed at offering extra-canonical etymology, offers only "proper name" as the etymological parse of נבט, given that it is only ever found in the phrase " יָרָבְעָ֣ם ...
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Change in meaning of the word "midah"

In the Torah, the word מדה means "measurement". Example: Exodus 26:2 (Sefaria translation) אֹ֣רֶךְ ׀ הַיְרִיעָ֣ה הָֽאַחַ֗ת שְׁמֹנֶ֤ה וְעֶשְׂרִים֙ בָּֽאַמָּ֔ה וְרֹ֙חַב֙ אַרְבַּ֣ע בָּאַמָּ֔ה ...
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Ger Tzedek/Tzadik earliest sources and definition

As I understand a "Ger Tzedek/Tzadik" is a fully converted follower of the Torah of Moshe. According to Hilchot Melachim 10:3-4, a "Ger Tzedek" is defined as someone who has confirmed their conversion ...
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What is the origin of the Yiddish word "nebach"? Is there a Jewish, Biblical source? [closed]

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 ...
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What is the connection between "שיח" as prayer and "שיח" as a bush?

פרשת וירא (כא טו): וַיִּכְלוּ הַמַּיִם מִן הַחֵמֶת וַתַּשְׁלֵךְ אֶת הַיֶּלֶד תַּחַת אַחַד הַשִּׂיחִם Genesis 21:15: And the water in the bottle was spent, and she cast the child under one of the ...
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When was the term "Next World" (עולם הבא) first used in Jewish literature

In modern Jewish literature and folklore the "next world" (עולם הבא) is mentioned multiple times. In contrast, it is not mentioned (AFAIK) at all in the Torah. So where/when did this start?
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Relationship between *segulah* and violet color

We have a tradition, very often used in drush, that words deriving from the same root are really manifestations of the same idea in different facets. In this context, what is the relationship between ...
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What is the origin of the name "Artscroll" [closed]

If I were naming a company dedicated to bringing Jewish soures to the masses, I would choose a name more descriptive of the mission than "Artscroll". What is the origin of this name?
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What exactly does "Lord of Hosts" (צְבָאוֹת) mean?

When I think of the Judaism, I don't think of Angelic armies attacking the armies of evil directly. G-d usually works in far more subtle ways than this, e.g. appearing as a burning bush to motivate ...
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Book, commentary, or other source that explains the Biblical usage of "compass" directions

IIRC, there may have been a M.Y. question that referred to a source that explained the Biblical usage of the 4 directions. I.e. it explained why: קדם is East ים is West נגב is South צפון is North ...
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Source for the Usage of "Kabbalah"

What are the earliest sources that refer to Jewish mysticism in particular as "kabblah". (Preferably the answer should include an indication that the word was associated with this in particular, ...
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Source of "Koteret"

I have heard Rambam's presentation of the mitzvos at the beginning of each set of halachos referred to as the כותרת (koteret). What is the source for this usage?
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How did the term "Shalom Bayit" come to mean "matrimonial harmony"?

A follow up to this M.Y. question : The answer there (so far), addresses the source of the term, in general and cites Talmud Shabbat which seems to address the importance of lighting Shabbat candles. ...
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8 votes
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Source that "Teiku" References Eliyahu?

What is the earliest source that indicates that "teiku" (תיקו) references Eliyahu? Any source earlier than the Tosafos Yom Tov who provides an alternative explanation?
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When did the word challa start being used to mean our Shabbos bread?

In the Torah we seem to only find this word associated with Temple related breads. In Rabbinic writings the word challa was the word referring to the amount of dough separated to be given to a kohen. ...
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11 votes
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Source of Term "Shiur"

What is the source for referring to a rabbinic lecture as a "shiur" which literally means 'measurement'? When did this usage begin? What is its significance?
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Source of the word "teva" for nature

I was told by someone who I consider to be very reliable that the word טבע, which means nature, does not have a source in Biblical or Talmudic literature, and it is a word that first emerges in ...
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