The Hebrew Word of the Day is a feature on Haaretz, a major Israeli newspaper. It’s all written in English (the Hebrew is transliterated), and traces the history of certain Hebrew words.
The words picked by journalists Shoshana Kordova and Elon Gilad are unique, interesting, and quite clever. Many of their journeys begin with Jewish linguists struggling to create modern Hebrew words. Their choices? Evolve Talmudic Hebrew, Hebraize foreign words, or straight-up steal them.
(some articles are locked to non-subscribers, but plenty are free to the public.)
- The Hebrew word for clitoris comes from the Arabic verb daghdagh, meaning “to stimulate or tickle.”
- The Hebrew word for anosmia (lacking a sense of smell. Looking at you, Stefan!), is widely known in Israel due to a scribe-garbled Talmudic passage about…radishes and dates.
- That phrase of blithe dismissal, “oom-shmoom,” as in, “politics-shmolitics,” and “carbohydrates-shmarbohydrates,” came from Yiddish.