Questions tagged [etymology]

About the history and origins of words.

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14
votes
5answers
5k views

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 ...
8
votes
5answers
717 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.
10
votes
3answers
7k views

Etymology of the Name Feivel

Where does the Jewish name Feivel (or Feivish) come from? What does it actually mean?
8
votes
2answers
213 views

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?
18
votes
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 ...
6
votes
4answers
317 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
326 views

What are some examples of Jewish names? [closed]

What are Jewish sounding names that come from various occupations and locations? Please give the "rough" translation and background too.
5
votes
3answers
947 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.
1
vote
1answer
2k views

When, and why did the term “am ha'aretz” come to mean “ignoramus”?

In Tana'ch, the term "am ha'aretz" meant either "the tribal counsel" as we see when Abraham wanted to purchase the Cave of Machpela, he bowed down to the "am ha'aretz". It also meant "the nation" or "...
11
votes
2answers
209 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?
5
votes
2answers
220 views

Why is hell termed Gehinnom?

Why is the place that that wicked are punished for their sins after death termed Gehinnom? Is there is an association with Gei ben Hinnom where idolatry was performed? If so why was this place singled ...
4
votes
2answers
318 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. ...
3
votes
4answers
311 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
440 views

Extra yud in Yerushalaim

Why and by whom was there a yud added to make "ירושלים" instead of the original "ירושלם"?
8
votes
3answers
631 views

Are the names Akiva and Ya'akov related?

Are the names Akiva and Ya'akov related?
7
votes
1answer
387 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
249 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
368 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.
3
votes
2answers
425 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?
2
votes
1answer
59 views

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 ...
11
votes
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 ...
8
votes
4answers
974 views

Etymology of the surname “Katz”

Are there sources for the etymology of the surname Katz being an acronym for Kohen Tzedek? Is that simply a backronym?
7
votes
2answers
130 views

First use of the term “Taharat HaMischpacha ”

When and by whom (and why) was the phrase "טהרת המשפחה" ("family purity") first used to describe the halachot relating to niddah?
7
votes
1answer
129 views

First Use of the Phrase “Cheit HaMeraglim”

The negative report given by the people who are sent to scout the land of Cana'an before Bnei Yisrael go in, resulting in the punishment that they have to wander for another 38 years in the desert, is ...
6
votes
1answer
220 views

What is the Shekhina?

To what are people referring when they talk about the Shekhina? Is it a form of God? A part of God? An attribute of God? Perhaps it is something else entirely? Also, what is the etymology of the word,...
6
votes
1answer
226 views

Root of the name Aharon

What is the etymology of the name Aharon? The only serious site I've found that proposes an etymology is this, but I'm hoping for a more classical source, i.e. Chazal or Rishonim.
6
votes
2answers
378 views

What does Yarmulka mean?

What does the word Yarmulka mean?
6
votes
4answers
321 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
239 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. ...
4
votes
0answers
311 views

The difference between Chazal and Razal

I have heard it said before that Chazal (חז"ל = חכמינו זכרונם לברכה; "our sages of blessed memory") refers to sages of the Mishna and Gemara, while Razal (רז"ל = רבנים/נו זכרונם לברכה; "our/the ...
3
votes
1answer
113 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)?
3
votes
1answer
2k views

Etymology of the word “Vasikin”

What is the etymology of the word "Vasikin", used for the Minyan that starts Shemona Esrei at sunrise? Also, is "Vasikin" Hebrew or Aramaic?
2
votes
1answer
489 views

Are “tzipor” and “tziporen” related?

Are the words ציפור (bird) and ציפורן (finger nail OR a spice [found in k'tores]) etymologically related? I heard that both were connected to the root צ.פ.ר (arise) or to anatomical protuberance but I ...
2
votes
2answers
406 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
3answers
204 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
78 views

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?