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Hebrew Loanwords in English

written by: Heather Marie Kosur • edited by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch • updated: 1/6/2012

The English language is a language that has borrowed words extensively from foreign languages. Find some of the most commonly used Hebrew words in the English language in the following sections.

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    Borrowed Loanwords

    Borrowing is a word formation process in which a word from one language is borrowed directly into another language. Borrowed words are also referred to as loanwords or foreign loanwords.

    The English language has borrowed extensively from foreign languages beginning during the Old English period and continuing through the Middle English period and into the Modern English period. The following sections list and define the most common Hebrew words in the English language.

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    Hebrew Words in English Language

    Hebrew Words in English Language The following list provides the definitions of some common Hebrew words in English language:

    • abacus: a calculating table, the upper member of the capital of a column
    • alleluia: an exclamation meaning 'Praise the Lord'
    • aloe: succulent plants
    • alphabet: any set of characters representing the simple sounds used in a language or in speech generally
    • amen: a solemn expression of concurrence in, or ratification of, a prayer, or wish
    • apron: a garment of cloth or leather or plastic that is tied about the waist and worn to protect your clothing
    • bedlam: madness, lunacy, a sense of mad confusion or uproar
    • behemoth: someone or something that is abnormally large and powerful
    • camel: cud-chewing mammal used as a draft or saddle animal in desert regions
    • cane: the hollow jointed ligneous stem of various giant reeds or grasses, a stick that people can lean on to help them walk
    • canister: a small case or box usually made of metal
    • cannon: a large artillery gun that is usually on wheels
    • canon: a rule or especially body of rules or principles generally established as valid and fundamental in a field or art or philosophy, a collection of books accepted as holy scripture
    • canyon: a ravine formed by a river in an area with little rainfall
    • cherub/cherubim: an angel of the second order whose gift is knowledge and who is usually portrayed as a winged child
    • chutzpah: unbelievable gall, insolence, audacity
    • cider: a beverage made from juice pressed from apples
    • cinnamon: spice from the dried aromatic bark of the Ceylon cinnamon tree
    • cotton: soft silky fibers from cotton plants
    • cumin: aromatic seeds of the cumin herb
    • deltoid: a large triangular muscle covering the shoulder joint, triangular
    • earnest: sincere, solemn, dear, devout, heartfelt
    • golem: a mechanism that can move automatically
    • gun moll: the girlfriend of a gangster
    • hallelujah: an exclamation meaning 'Praise the Lord'
    • jacket: an outer garment for the upper part of the body
    • jeez: an exclamation of fright or incredibility
    • jubilee: a special anniversary or celebration
    • kibosh: to stop from happening or developing
    • kosher: conforming to dietary laws, proper or legitimate
    • leviathan: the largest or most massive thing of its kind, a monstrous sea creature symbolizing evil
    • macabre: grim, horrific, repulsive
    • map: a drawing or other representation of the surface of the earth or a part of it made on a flat surface
    • matzo: a crisp biscuit or wafer of unleavened bread which is traditionally eaten during Passover
    • maudlin: given to tears, lachrymose
    • maven: an expert, a connoisseur, a knowledgeable enthusiast, an aficionado
    • menorah: a candelabrum with nine branches used during the Hanukkah festival
    • messiah: any expected deliverer
    • napkin: a small piece of table linen that is used to wipe the mouth and to cover the lap in order to protect clothing
    • nimrod: a stupid or contemptible person, an idiot
    • Pharaoh: the title of the ancient Egyptian kings
    • philistine: an anti-intellectual, a lowbrow
    • pita: small round bread that can open into a pocket for filling
    • rabbi: a title of respect given to a Jewish scholar or teacher with authority and expertise on law and ritual
    • rube: a person who is not very intelligent or interested in culture, yokel, hick, yahoo
    • Sabbath: the seventh day of the week, Sunday
    • sabbatical: designating a period of leave from duty granted to university teachers at certain intervals for the purposes of study and travel
    • sac: a structure resembling a bag in an animal
    • sack: a bag usually made of paper or plastic
    • sapphire: a precious transparent stone of rich blue valued as a gemstone
    • satanic: demonic, diabolic, diabolical, fiendish, hellish, infernal, unholy
    • schmooze: to chat, gossip, engage in a long and intimate conversation
    • schwa: a neutral middle vowel that occurs in unstressed syllables
    • Seder: the ceremonial dinner on the first both nights of Passover
    • seraph/seraphim: an angel of the first order that is usually portrayed as the winged head of a child
    • shalom: a word used as a salutation at meeting or parting
    • shibboleth: a word used as a test for detecting foreigners, or persons from another district, by their pronunciation
    • sycamore: a species of fig tree
    • torah: the whole body of the Jewish sacred writings and tradition including the oral tradition
    • tush: buttocks, backside, butt
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    The English language is abound with foreign loanwords from the Hebrew language. Find other Hebrew words in the English language in dictionaries, books, newspapers, websites, and everyday speech!

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    References

    • Hebrew Loan Words: http://www.english-for-students.com/Hebrew-Loan-Words.html
    • List of English Words of Hebrew Origin: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_English_words_of_Hebrew_origin
    • Oxford English Dictionary
    • WordNet Search: http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu/

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