Questions tagged [etymology]

About the history and origins of words.

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1 answer
211 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 ...
9 votes
6 answers
616 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 ...
0 votes
1 answer
76 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
334 views

What does שעטנז (sha'atnez) mean?

.שעטנז. I'm asking about the literal meaning behind the word, its etymology, etc.
5 votes
1 answer
329 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
462 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
133 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
463 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
194 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
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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 ...
8 votes
5 answers
925 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
87 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
85 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
480 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
70 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
5k 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
123 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
283 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
84 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
558 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
82 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
296 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
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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 ...
3 votes
0 answers
66 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
109 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
770 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
338 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
562 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
174 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
624 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
293 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
471 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
64 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
449 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
60 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
160 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, ...
5 votes
3 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.
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
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Etymology of the Name Feivel

Where does the Jewish name Feivel (or Feivish) come from? What does it actually mean?
2 votes
1 answer
145 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
129 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)
11 votes
6 answers
14k 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
228 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 ...
1 vote
1 answer
43 views

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 ...
0 votes
0 answers
301 views

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. ...
4 votes
1 answer
288 views

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. ...
2 votes
3 answers
600 views

Why is it called "Eden"?

God planted a garden in Eden (Genesis 2:8). Why is it called Eden? I don't see that any of the commentaries in my mikraos g'dolos discuss this.
2 votes
1 answer
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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 ...
2 votes
0 answers
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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 ...