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Questions tagged [etymology]

About the history and origins of words.

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1answer
50 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 ...
5
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0answers
80 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 ...
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1answer
383 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
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1answer
55 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 ...
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2answers
139 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, ...
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3answers
920 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.
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3answers
962 views

Why is it called Bas Kol

Why is it called Bas Kol versus Ben Kol?
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3answers
7k views

Etymology of the Name Feivel

Where does the Jewish name Feivel (or Feivish) come from? What does it actually mean?
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1answer
100 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 ...
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1answer
72 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 ...
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1answer
170 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 ...
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1answer
93 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)
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6answers
12k 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 ...
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3answers
198 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 ...
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1answer
33 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 ...
6
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1answer
135 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 ...
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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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1answer
234 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
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3answers
272 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.
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5answers
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Is Hebrew the mother of all languages spoken today in the world?

I often wonder what language Adam, Seth, Noah and Abraham (may peace and blessings be upon them) used to speak. What was their native tongue? Was it classical Hebrew? If yes, then would it be right to ...
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1answer
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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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0answers
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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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3answers
711 views

Why is Shmoneh Esreh referred to as 18 blessings when there are actually 19?

Originally Shmoneh Esreh only had 18 blessings, thus the name "Shemoneh Esreh." However, subsequently a 19th blessing was added of Velamalshinim regarding the heretics. If there are 19 blessings now, ...
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3answers
943 views

Where can I find Hebrew etymologies? [closed]

In what reliable source can I look up the etymology of English (or other) words stretching all the way back to Semitic languages, especially Hebrew? I often have suspicions that certain words might ...
2
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1answer
81 views

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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2answers
309 views

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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3answers
240 views

Niqqud of the name of the מהר"ץ חיות

What is the correct niqqud to put on the name of the מהר"ץ חיות? Wikipedia claims that his last name is spelled Chajes in English, and that Chayes or Hayot may also be seen. This seems to imply that ...
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2answers
104 views

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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1answer
1k views

Origin/meaning of common surname Naiman (or similar) [closed]

What is the origin and/or meaning of the common Jewish surname Naiman (or Neiman, Najman, etc.)? According to this site the common Jewish name is of Germanic origin, meaning "Newcomer". However, I'...
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4answers
313 views

Etymology of מחילה

I am looking for a possible etymological root for the word מחילה as meaning forgiveness. The word מחל does not appear in Tanach1, and neither does מחילה, nor does מוחל, and I was unable to find any ...
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2answers
3k 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 ...
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1answer
445 views

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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4answers
303 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 ...
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4answers
182 views

etymology of the word “Kittel”

What is the etymology of the word "Kittel"? (Kittel is a white garment worn by many at the Pesach Seder and on Yom Kippur by Davening)
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2answers
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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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0answers
173 views

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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2answers
368 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 ...
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2answers
422 views

What does the word לאַטקעס (latkes) mean? [closed]

לאַטקעס is the Yiddish word used for the potato pancakes commonly and commemoratively eaten on Chanukah. Where does the word לאַטקעס come from originally? What exactly does it mean?
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4answers
300 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 ...
2
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1answer
821 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 ...
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2answers
4k views

Origin of the term Yoshke?

I have often heard Jews refer to Jesus as "Yoshke". Is the origin of that appellation based on halachic issues regarding mentioning names of foreign deities, or some other Jewish law or custom? When ...
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3answers
121 views

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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5answers
701 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.
4
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2answers
307 views

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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2answers
203 views

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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2answers
665 views

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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1answer
61 views

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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0answers
137 views

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 ...
11
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3answers
697 views

Why is the Machzor called a Machzor?

The Siddur we use for Yom Tov is known as a Machzor. What does it mean and where did this originate?
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2answers
122 views

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?