Questions tagged [etymology]

About the history and origins of words.

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2 votes
1 answer
72 views

Is there a relationship between Alcohol and Tekhelet

Iirc Alcohol is from the Arabic word, but what is the root of the word? Is it Al-Kekhol? The All-Inclusive? Because per Tikune Zohar there are four primary colors (White, red, yarok -- light or mid ...
0 votes
1 answer
102 views

"They made life bitter for them" Shemot 1:14 - Question about the word וַיְמָרְר֨וּ

I understand there are valid points of view that the Torah isn't shy to speak in metaphor. There is also a side to say that every word in the Torah is true (see "Thinking Jewish Teenagers Guide ...
10 votes
7 answers
836 views

Is there a substantive difference in meaning when the Torah uses the Hebrew verb root דבר rather than אמר?

Is there a substantive difference in meaning when the Torah uses the Hebrew verb root דבר rather than אמר, or do they both pretty much mean "to say" or "to speak"? Do any sages see the choice of one ...
1 vote
1 answer
94 views

What is the etymology of "oy vey"?

I'd always associated "oy vey" with "oy vavoy" in my mind. But I've seen sefarim that use the term אוי ואבוי, and I don't even know how to spell "oy vey" - much less ever ...
6 votes
4 answers
1k views

Etymology of the word "Kvater"

What is the etymology of the word "Kvater"? Kvater is what we call the person that carries the baby boy into a Bris.
8 votes
1 answer
329 views

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 ...
4 votes
3 answers
2k views

What's the etymology of the Hassidic term "b'sho'oh" for a chaperoned quasi-date?

I've heard in the Hassidic world, if two families decide that one's young fellow should meet the other's young lady, the couple has a brief, chaperoned, meeting, known as a b'shoh (spelling?), to ...
0 votes
0 answers
67 views

Etymology of the name Azriel?

A quick Google search shows that most people hold this is the angel of death. Where are the sources for this (or any other sources of the name)? If there is a source for this, are people naming their ...
1 vote
0 answers
36 views

Is the phrase Abracadabra found in any Hebrew literature? [duplicate]

I recently learned that Abracadbra is a Hebrew word from אברא כדברא, so I was wondering if this phrase appears anywhere in the Gemara or midrash
0 votes
1 answer
1k views

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 ...
9 votes
2 answers
403 views

What does שעטנז (sha'atnez) mean?

.שעטנז. I'm asking about the literal meaning behind the word, its etymology, etc.
6 votes
1 answer
371 views

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, ...
3 votes
4 answers
540 views

Etymology of “Krepel”

What is the Etymology of “Krepel”? Krepel is a 3 cornered stuffed piece of dough that we eat on Purim, Hoshana Rabah, and Erev Yom Kippur.
7 votes
4 answers
213 views

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 ...
5 votes
4 answers
589 views

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 ...
3 votes
2 answers
255 views

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)?
1 vote
1 answer
150 views

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 ...
8 votes
5 answers
994 views

Etymology of the word sanhedrin

What is the root and source of the term "sanhedrin," the name of the Jewish high court and of a tractate in the Talmud? As far as I know, it is not from scripture.
2 votes
0 answers
122 views

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 ...
2 votes
0 answers
105 views

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 ...
4 votes
1 answer
639 views

Origin of Yisha'yahu (Isaiah/יְשַׁעְיָהוּ)'s name

Does Jewish tradition teach us anything that might explain the origin of the name Yisha'yahu/Isaiah/יְשַׁעְיָהוּ? I am referring to the prophet who bore the name. If his name means, as it seems to, "...
-3 votes
2 answers
82 views

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 ...
13 votes
3 answers
6k views

חס ושלום! (whatever that means)

What on earth does חס ושלום mean literally, or what is its etymology? Why do people use that phrase in particular to "ward off" bad things? (That last part of the question is not asking whether saying ...
3 votes
0 answers
165 views

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 ...
5 votes
1 answer
292 views

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 ...
0 votes
2 answers
110 views

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 ...
8 votes
2 answers
612 views

Pronunciation of Yerushalayim

In the Tanach, the word Yerushalayim is almost always written without a yud between the lamed and mem, but pronounced as if there is a patach under the lamed and a yud following it. We find though ...
1 vote
0 answers
104 views

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 ...
11 votes
3 answers
449 views

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 ...
2 votes
0 answers
50 views

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 ...
3 votes
0 answers
96 views

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 ...
1 vote
1 answer
185 views

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 ...
2 votes
3 answers
1k views

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 ...
2 votes
2 answers
847 views

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&...
5 votes
1 answer
844 views

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 ...
0 votes
2 answers
216 views

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, ...
2 votes
1 answer
2k views

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 ...
5 votes
7 answers
683 views

What's the origin of the name "Jew"?

Why are we called "the Jews"? Did Hashem pick out this name for us? What does the word "Jew" mean?
-3 votes
1 answer
448 views

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 ...
8 votes
1 answer
555 views

דילמא == Dilemma?

Is there documentation to prove that the Aramaic word "דילמא" is a transliteration or derivation of the Greek word "dilemma"? If so, this fact is informative to G'mara-learning in understanding the ...
4 votes
1 answer
93 views

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 ...
7 votes
1 answer
520 views

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?
5 votes
1 answer
65 views

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 ...
5 votes
2 answers
172 views

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, ...
6 votes
3 answers
1k views

Why is it called Bas Kol

Why is it called Bas Kol versus Ben Kol?
10 votes
3 answers
9k views

Etymology of the Name Feivel

Where does the Jewish name Feivel (or Feivish) come from? What does it actually mean?
2 votes
1 answer
196 views

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 ...
1 vote
1 answer
140 views

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)
12 votes
6 answers
15k views

Etymology/connection between Ari, Aryeh, Yehudah, Leib, and Leibel

What is the relationship between the following names that often go together is some combination? Ari/Aryeh Yehudah Leib/Leibel I've encountered many men, young and old, with the following first ...
2 votes
3 answers
248 views

What is the meaning of the phrase לצאת ולבוא?

What is the meaning of the oft-repeated phrase לצאת ולבוא as in Deuteronomy 31:2 ? I realize it means "to conduct business" or "to lead", but I was hoping for more of a deep dive (does it come from a ...