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Aug 30, 2010

how to say "goggles" in Hebrew...

This one's also a request.

A few days ago I wrote about the word for swimming - שְׂחִיָּה (se-khee-YAH).

You may know the word for glasses - מִשְׁקָפַיִם (meesh-kah-FAH-yeem). The root of the word is ש.ק.פ (sh.k.f), whose core meaning is clarity and transparency. A verb of that root is לְהַשְׁקִיף (le-hahsh-KEEF) - to look out. For example, הַבָּיִת מַשְׁקִיף עַל הָעֵמֶק (hah-BAH-yeet mahsh-KEEF ahl hah-EH-mek) - the house looks out on the valley.

Going with the concept of clarity of vision, the Modern Hebrew word for binoculars is מִשְׁקֶפֶת (meesh-KEH-fet). The word for goggles is משקפת שְׂחִיָּה (meesh-KEH-fet se-khee-YAH), but most Israelis are likely to say, simply, משקפת.

Check out Ulpan La-Inyan's upcoming courses!

Aug 29, 2010

how to say "heatwave" in Hebrew...

This one was requested by Ruti. If you would like to request a word to be featured on Ktzat Ivrit, please click.

It's still summer in Israel. The bike ride from my rented German Colony apartment to Yeshivat HaKotel in the Old City (where I deliver Ivrit La-Inyan classes) requires that I take an extra shirt to change into when I arrive - since by the time I get to my destination, my shirt is too wet to run a class with the proper decorum.

It's not me on the bike... but the picture gets the point across.

A few weeks ago, however, it was so hot that even my second shirt wasn't enough. That type of weather is called, in Hebrew, שָׁרָב (shah-RAHV). The word appears in Biblical Hebrew, in Isaiah 49.

Another term commonly used by Israelis to describe such inclement weather is חַמְסִין (khahm-SEEN). According to Israeli environmentalist Dr. Oded Potchter, this word comes from Arabic and refers to the Arabian tradition that fifty such days a year exist (in the Middle East, I guess). The Arabic word for fifty is خمسون (khahm-SOON), which is pretty close to khahm-SEEN.

That's the major difference between שרב and חמסין - Hebrew versus Arabic.

The Hebrew word for to make fun is the same word for to laugh - לִצְחוֹק (leets-KHOHK). In the case of making fun, add the word עַל - so that your sentence sounds would be translated literally into English, laughing on someone.

To ask someone (a male, in this example), Are you making fun of me? you'd say, ?אֲתָּה צוֹחֵק עָלַי (ah-TAH tsoh-KHEK ah-LAH-ee?).

Hear this expression pronounced in Hebrew.

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Aug 27, 2010

how to say "to swim the crawl" in Hebrew...

To swim, in Hebrew, is לִשְׂחוֹת (lees-KHOHT). The act of swimming is שְׂחִיָּה (skhee-YAH).

To row or to paddle is לַחְתּוֹר (lahkh-TOHR). The act of rowing or paddling - or swimming the crawl (which resembles rowing in its movement) is חֲתִירָה (khah-tee-RAH).

For example... אֲנִי אוֹהֵב לִשְׂחוֹת חֲתִירָה (ah-NEE oh-HEV lees-KHOT khah-tee-RAH) - I like to swim (the) crawl.

Aug 26, 2010

how to say "sodium" in Hebrew

To conclude the nutrition series of Ktzat Ivrit, here's the word for sodium: נַתְרָן (naht-RAHN).

What is the etymology behind נתרן? I've got no clue.

If you do, let me know!

Aug 25, 2010

how to say "serenity" in Hebrew...

The Modern Hebrew letter ו (vahv) make a v sound when pronounced by most native speakers. In Biblical times, however, the letter made a w sound.

There are four Hebrew consonants pronounced, historically, at the lips: ב (b), מ (m), פ (p) and ו (w). Try it yourself. Linguists call these consonants bilabials

You all know the Hebrew word for peace - שָׁלוֹם (shah-LOHM). Here's the word for tranquility or serenity: שַׁלְוָה (shahl-VAH). 

Now let's look at the three-letter roots of these two words. The root of שלום is ש.ל.מ (sh.l.m.). The root of  שלוה is ש.ל.ו (sh.l.w). Two of the three letters in each of the two roots are identical: ש and ל. And the third letters - they're pretty close, as they're both pronounced at the lips. Such are many Hebrew synonyms. 

I write about this word because tonight I sat at the Western Wall with a couple of friends and sang in honor of one of them, who is getting married tomorrow. The first song we sang was יְהִי שָׁלוֹם בְּחֵילֵךְ, שַׁלְוָה בְּאַרְמְנוֹתָיִך (ye-HEE shah-LOHM be-kheh-LEKH, shahl-VAH be-ahr-meh-noh-TAH-yeekh) - May there be peace within your strongholds and tranquility within your palaces (Psalms 122).

May it be so.

Aug 23, 2010

how (and why) to say "bicycle" in Hebrew...

This one's for Maurice - thanks for the request!

I explained this to Caron's Level 4 class last week, I believe, when I was substituting.

The Hebrew word for bicycle is אוֹפַנַּים (oh-fah-NAH-yeem). 


While Modern Hebrew (going on Medieval) renders a wheel a גַּלְגָּל (gahl-GAHL), the Biblical Hebrew word for wheel is אוֹפַן (oh-FAHN). The יִים- (AH-yeem) ending on a noun doubles the noun - so that אופן (a wheel) becomes אופניים (a double wheel... or two wheels)... like this one:

Aug 22, 2010

how to say "football" in Hebrew...

Someone asked me to feature football (if you'd like to have a word or phrase featured, visit our request page.)

I don't know whether s/he is referring to the game played in the World Cup or to that played with a pigskin in the States, so I'm going to feature both.

The game played throughout the world is כָּדוּרֶגֶל (kah-doo-REH-gehl), a combination of the words כָּדוּר (kah-DOOR) - ball - and רֶגֶל (REH-gehl) - foot or leg.

That game played in the Super Bowl is פוּטְבּוֹל (football).

how to say "logical" in Hebrew...

In English, to think is a general term, while to ponder, to contemplate, to surmise, etc. are related to thinking but are more specific. 

Hebrew works the same way, with לַחְשׁוֹב (lahkh-SHOHV) meaning to think, and other words denoting something more specific. For example, the Biblical and Modern Hebrew לַהֲגוֹת (lah-hah-GOHT) means to pronounce, but also to ponder. Likewise, הִגָּיוֹן (hee-gah-YOHN), in Biblical Hebrew, refers to the act of pondering (תְּהִלִּים י"ט - Psalms 19).

In Medieval times, the study of logic became a central discipline for scholars. So for Jewish scholars, the word הגיון took on a meaning even more specific than pondering - it came to mean logic, which is what the word means to this day.

That which is logical is הֶגְיוֹנִי (heh-gyoh-NEE). For example, זֶה הֶגְיוֹנִי שֶׁהַשֶּׁמֶש שׁוֹקַעַת כָּל יוֹם (zeh heh-gyoh-NEE sheh-hah-SHEH-mesh shoh-KAH-aht kohl yohm) - It's logical that the sun sets every day.

Aug 19, 2010

how to say "oil" and "fat" in Hebrew...

The Biblical Hebrew word for oil is שֶׁמֶן (SHEH-men). 

The nutrition-facts name for fat is שׁוּמָן (shoo-MAHN).

The derogatory term for someone who is overweight is שָׁמֵן (shah-MEN) for a male and שְׁמֵנָה (shmeh-NAH) for a female.

Aug 18, 2010

how to say "reliable" in Hebrew...

This entry was requested by Stan. Thanks Stan! Keep them coming!

If you would like to request an entry from Ktzat Ivrit, please go here.

If you've been minimally affiliated with any Judeo-Christian institution... ever, you're familiar with the word אָמֵן (ah-MEN) - amen. The three-letter root of the word makes up the entire word. Its core meaning is trust.

Thus the word for reliable is אָמִין (ah-MEEN), or אָמִינָה (ah-mee-NAH), when speaking of a female or a feminine object.

For example, זֶה רֶכֶב אָמִין (zeh REH-khev ah-MEEN) - This is a reliable vehicle.

Aug 17, 2010

how to say "to double" in Hebrew...

Perhaps you've been to חֶבְרוֹן (khev-ROHN) - Hebron, to the Tomb of the Patriarchs. In Hebrew, that site is called מְעָרַת הַמַּכְפֵּלָה (meh-ah-RAHT hah-mahkh-peh-LAH) - the cave of the doubling.

Why doubling? I'm aware of two reasons provided by the Rabbis: 1. Couples are buried there, and 2. The cave is two-storied.

The root of this concept of doubling is כ.פ.ל.

To double something, in Hebrew, is לְהַכְפִּיל (le-hahkh-PEEL). For example, אֲנִי רוֹצֶה לְהַכְפִּיל אֶת כָּמוּת הָאֲנָשִׁים הָרְשׁוּמִים לַבְּלוֹג הַזֶּה (ah-NEE roh-TSEH le-hahkh-PEEL et kah-MOOT ha-ah-nah-SHEEM ha-reh-shoo-MEEM lah-BLOHG hah-ZEH) - I want to double the amount of people signed up to this blog.

Why? Why not? 

(It's also great publicity for my program, my bread and butter. But besides that, it gets more and more people connected to and learning the Hebrew language.)

Call to action

If you like your Daily Dose of Hebrew, consider introducing it to a friend or two who might benefit from it as well. That way, we can להכפיל the number of recipients.

Aug 16, 2010

how to say "timing" in Hebrew...

I did a stint on stage a couple of years ago acting in Sure Thing, where one of my key lines was "it's all in the timing."

If you know a bit of Hebrew (for instance, if you've taken Level 1 at Ulpan La-Inyan), you surely know the word for time - זְמָן (zmahn).

Here's the word for timing: תִּזְמוּן (teez-MOON). For example, הַכֹּל בַּתִּזְמוּן (hah-KOHL bah-teez-MOON) - it's all in the timing (literally, "everything is in the timing").

Aug 15, 2010

how (and why) to say "calcium" in Hebrew...

The next in our nutrition-fact series is the Hebrew word for calcium - סִידָן. 

How did Modern Hebrew scholars come up with this word, a natural element discovered only in the nineteenth century? Well, the word limestone - a white substance, just like calcium - is אֶבֶן סִיד (EH-ven seed). And to whitewash is לְסַיֵּד (le-sah-ee-YED).

So drink your milk, people... or otherwise get lots and lots of סידן. I prefer yogurt.

how to say "professional" in Hebrew...

The Modern Hebrew word for profession - מִקְצוֹע (meek-TSOH-ah) appears in the Bible meaning the side of a room/ a geometrical figure. The root is ק.צ.ע (k.ts.a), a root that shares its first two letters with other roots of a similar meaning: ק.צ.ה (k.ts.h) - edge; ק.צ.ר (k.ts.r) - short (in length); etc.

What does a side have to do with a profession? By gaining a profession, a person acquires his/her side or corner in the workforce. Think carving a niche.

To describe someone as professional you'd use מִקְצוֹעִי/ת (meek-tsoh-EE/EET - masc./fem.). For example, הוּא אִינְסְטֶלַטוֹר מִקְצוֹעִי (hoo een-steh-LAH-tohr meek-tsoh-EE) - he is a professional plumber.

By contrast, to say someone is a professional, you'd use מִקְצוֹעָן (meek-tsoh-AHN - masc.) or מִקְצוֹעָנִית (meek-tsoh-ah-NEET - fem.).

Aug 12, 2010

how to say "unavailable" in Hebrew...

Now, if you've read the previous post, you know that I am probably on a trip in the Galilee and the vicinity. You may be wondering how I've managed to write a Ktzat Ivrit entry on my vacation!

The answer is that I've written it in advance, and hit "publish" before I left. If you're subscribed through email, this entry has hopefully arrived in your email inbox on Friday morning by automated delivery.

Anyway, here's how I would say I'm not available - אֲנִי לֹא זָמִין (ah-NEE loh zah-MEEN). If I were a woman, I'd say אֲנִי לֹא זְמִינָה (zmee-NAH).

Note the root of these words - ז.מ.נ - the concept of time.

שבת שלום! Shabbat Shalom!

Aug 11, 2010

how to say "a hiking trail" in Hebrew...

Hiking is to Israelis as playing soccer (futbol) is to South Americans... or as dipping in ice water is to Russians. It's just what they do.

So there isn't really a word in Hebrew that communicates the rigors of hiking. Instead, a hike is usually referred to in the broader sense of the word טִיּוּל (tee-YOOL) - leisurely trip - and a hiking trail is called מַסְלוּל הֲלִיכָה (mahs-LOOL hah-lee-KHAH) - a walking course.

Why do I write this today? Because by the time most of you will be reading this, I hope to be hiking in the Golan. Perhaps I'll have some pictures for you next week.

how to say "protein" in Hebrew...

A couple of days ago we did the word for carbs - פַּחְמִימוֹת (pahkh-mee-MOHT).

Today we're going to look at another item on the Nutrition Facts section of packaged food - protein.

Hebrew's rendition of protein is חֶלְבּוֹן (khehl-BOHN), which is also the term for egg white. If you look closely at the word - and you know some Hebrew (perhaps after having taken Level 1 at Ulpan La-Inyan) - you'll see that its root is ח.ל.ב (kh.l.b), which is the same root as חָלָב (khah-LAHV) - milk. As we know, milk has protein.

Likewise, ח.ל.ב is also the root of חֵלֶב (KHEH-lehv), which means animal fat - another great source of protein.

So when you peruse the label of your Israeli-brand Bamba or Bissli or Humus, look for חֶלְבּוֹנִים (khehl-boh-NEEM) - proteins.

Aug 9, 2010

how to say "summer camp" in Hebrew...

Click the Hebrew word above to hear it pronounced.

The Hebrew word for summer is קַיִץ (KAH-yeets), probably related to the Biblical Hebrew word for end - קֵץ (kehts), as summer can be seen as the end of the year (especially with Rosh Hashana coming up).

Now, you may know that Aramaic is a cognate language to Hebrew - that is, the two languages are very closely related. One of the minor variations between the two is that often when Hebrew uses the צ (ts) letter, Aramaic uses the ט (historically, a strong t sound).

So where in Hebrew the word for summer is קיץ or קייץ, in Aramaic it's קיט or קייט. 

Hence the Modern Hebrew rendition of summer camp - קַיְטָנָה (kah-ee-tah-NAH). It's a combination of Aramaic קייט and the diminutive ending, נָה (nah). 

Truth is, the word probably appears in ancient Aramaic texts meaning something else (as does אולפן - ulpan - see definition on the website). If someone can find it, please send to me!

Aug 8, 2010

how to say "carbs" in Hebrew

Click the Hebrew word above to hear it pronounced.

After Shabbat the other night I was pretty hungry - not because I hadn't eaten enough at my gracious Kfar Chabad cousins' place, but because over the past two days my diet has consisted mostly of white-flour products - lots of carbs. 

The Hebrew word for carbohydrates is פַּחְמִימוֹת (pahkh-mee-MOHT). The word is related to the Hebrew word for coal - פֶּחָם (peh-KHAHM). I'm aware that there's some kind of connection between the two - perhaps the scientists in Ktzat Ivrit's readership can explain it.

how to say "news article" in Hebrew...

Click the Hebrew word above to hear it pronounced.

One of the first verbs people typically learn in most ulpans is to write - לִכְתּוֹב (leekh-TOHV). In Ulpan La-Inyan, the introduction to this verb gets pushed off to Level 2, since we teach first and foremost the verbs necessary for everyday spoken communication.

In any case, the word for newspaper or magazine article is כַּתָּבָה (kah-tah-VAH).

For example, יֵשׁ כַּתָּבָה בָּעִתּוֹן עַל אֻלְפָּן לָעִנְיָן (yesh kah-tah-VAH bah-ee-TOHN ahl ool-PAHN lah-een-YAHN) - There's an article in the newspaper about Ulpan La-Inyan.

Aug 5, 2010

how to say "to let loose" in Hebrew...

Click the title to hear the word pronounced.

The other day we had לְהִשְׁתַּחְרִר (le-heesh-tahkh-REHR), which means to be liberated. An informal synonym of להשתחרר is לְהִתְפָּרֵק (le-heet-pah-REHK). 

This word means, literally, to fall apart, as in הַדֶּלֶת הִתְפָּרְקָה (ha-DEH-leht heet-pahr-KAH) - the door fell apart (i.e. off its hinges or something).

It's used informally, however, to describe that which people like to do at the end of the work week - to let loose. For example, בָּא לִי לְהִתְפָּרֵק קְצַת... (bah lee le-heet-pah-REHK ktsaht) - I feel like letting loose a bit.

שבת שלום לכולם - Shabbat Shalom to all!

what the ubiquitous Hebrew word "davka" means...


First of all, this word is used in Modern Hebrew, but it's borrowed from Aramaic.

The Hebrew root it's related to is ד.ו.ק (d.v.k), which has to do with thinness. The word דַּק (dahk) means fine or slight, or subtle. The root also gives rise to the words לְדַיֵּק (le-dah-YEHK) - to be precise; and  דִּקְדּוּק (deek-DOOK) - grammar.

So what does דַּוְקָא () actually mean? Here's what the online dictionary, Morfix, has to say: (colloquial) specifically, precisely ; (colloquial) in fact, actually.

It's typically translated as specifically or precisely, but דוקא means more than that. It's said with an attitude - with an in your face! air to it, though sometimes subtle. 

A couple of examples:

אֲתָּה לֹא אוֹהֵב אֶת הַמִּסְעָדָה? אֲנִי דַּוְקָא אוֹהֶבֶת אוֹתָה (ah-TAH loh oh-HEV et ha-mees-ah-DAH? ah-NEE DAHV-kah oh-HEH-vet oh-TAH) - You don't like the restaurant? I actually do like it (to be spoken with a subtle attitude).

לָמָה אֲתָּה עוֹשֵׂה אֶת זֶה דַּוְקָא? (LAH-mah ah-TAH oh-SEH et zeh DAHV-kah?) - Why are you doing this (on purpose/ to spite me/ etc.)?

Aug 3, 2010

how to say "to liberate oneself" in Hebrew...


Here's a word that our Level 3 students get a kick out of getting their mouth around: לְהִשְׁתַּחְרֵר (le-heesh-tahkh-REHR). It means, to get liberated.

It's used in many contexts, such as מָתַי אֲתָּה מִשְׁתַּחְרֵר מֵהַצָּבָא? (mah-TAH-ee ah-TAH meesh-tahkh-REHR meh-hah-tsah-VAH) - When are you getting released from the army?; אֲנִי רוֹצֶה קְצַת לְהִשְׁתַּחְרֵר הָעֶרֶב (ah-NEE roh-TSEH le-heesh-tahkh-REHR hah-EH-rehv) - I want to take a load off tonight (and have some fun); and others.

Here's another usage: הַמִּזְרַח הַתִּכוֹן צָרִיךְ לְהִשְׁתַּחְרֵר מֵהַנָּשִׂיא אָסָד (hah-meez-RAHKH hah-tee-KHOHN tsah-REEKH le-heesh-tahkh-REHR me-hah-nah-SEE AH-sahd) - The Middle East needs to liberate itself from President Assad.

The man is a lying terrorist of the most arrogant caliber - teamed up with Ahmadinejad, Nasrallah, Hamas... He's what they call in tales of superheroes "a bad-guy." 

I'm not a fan, and neither should you be. Because you're a good person.

how to say "sports field' in Hebrew...


The generic word in Hebrew for field is שָׂדֶה (sah-DEH).

However, the word used for soccer/football field, tennis court, etc. is מִגְרָש (meeg-RAHSH). It's the same word used to mean a plot of land.

For example, a basketball field is a מִגְרָשׁ כָּדוּרְסָל (kah-door-SAHL).

And a baseball field is a מִגְרָשׁ כָּדוּר בָּסִיס (kah-DOOR bah-SEES)... as in the movie I watched tonight with a few friends...

Aug 2, 2010

how to say "media player" in Hebrew...


For those of you familiar with the Hassidic (Chassidische) world, you probably know the word for melody - נִגּוּן (Modern Hebrew: nee-GOON; Ashkenazi pronunciation: NIH-gihn).

The root of this word is נ.ג.נ (n.g.n). Likewise, the word for musician - as well as the 20th century Hebrew word for
media player of various kinds - is נַגָּן (nah-GAHN).

Why do I mention this now? Not only because of all the concerts going on... but also to let you know about my Hebrew Music Show in English, on RustyMike Radio

My show airs today (Monday) from 3-4pm Israel time, during which I'll be playing songs that grow in their sophistication tracing the linguistic growth that takes place in the Ulpan La-Inyan course progression.

But don't worry about getting lost... I'm there to explain the Hebrew and the linguistics (well, to an extent). 

In any case... I hope to see you online!

Aug 1, 2010

how to say "hammock" in Hebrew


It's hot in Jerusalem... and probably in Tel Aviv as well.

These are the days when hammocks could be useful... in the late afternoon, in the shade, if the air conditioning isn't working.

Here's the word for hammock in Hebrew: עַרְסָל (ahr-SAHL). It comes from the Biblical Hebrew word for bed - עֶרֶש (EH-rehs).