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Aviv and Stav: The Origin and Meaning of Two Common Hebrew Names Posted by on Dec 3, 2018 in Hebrew Names

Two out of four seasons became popular Hebrew names: Aviv אָבׅיב (means “spring”) and Stav סְתָיו (means “autumn”).

Yarkon Park, Israel 2017, photo by Ayana

Aviv אָבׅיב

My grandmother’s old friend never celebrated her birthday. She didn’t know the exact day, she didn’t even know the year (שָׁנָה sha-na) she was born. She only knew she was born during spring, because her parents named her Aviva אָבׅיבָה.

Back then it was clear: boys get boys’ names, and girls get girls’ names. A boy born during spring could be called Aviv. But parents who wanted to name their new born daughter after the season (עוֺנָה o-na) of renewal and growth added the letter ה as suffix to indicate female.

Nowadays, unisex names are prevalent and girls are named Aviv, too. The name Aviv doesn’t necessarily symbolize the time of your birth anymore, either. My five-year-old sweet niece, for example, was born at a hot humid August day. My sister-in-law wished her baby a life of blossoming and flourishing, so she called her Aviv.

Aviv Gefen אָבׅיב גֶּפֶן is a famous Israeli singer. One of his popular songs called “Seasons” (עוֺנוֺת o-not). The song tells a little bit about Aviv’s parents and his birth during the spring.

Stav סְתָיו

Stav is a transition season (עוֹנַת מַעֲבָר o-nat ma-a-var) as well. It became a name only during the last couple of decades. It is very rare to meet a young lady by the name Aviva, as it’s very rare to meet an old person by the name Stav. Stav Shaffir, for example, was the youngest female Knesset member of all time when elected in 2013 at the age of twenty-seven.

Parents who choose the name Stav for their baby don’t necessarily refer to the time of the birth, either. The Knesset Member Stav Shaffir was born during spring, in May. The model Stav Strashko, on the other hand, was born in the first days of autumn, at the end of September. As many modern names it is unisex as well.

Summer קַיׅץ, Winter חוֺרֶף

I never met or heard of any Israeli by the name קַיׅץ (“summer”) or חוֺרֶף (“winter”).

 

Text vocabulary

Year (female) = שָׁנָה (sha-na)

Years = שָׁנׅים (sha-nim)

Month (masculine) = חֹודֶשׁ (ho-desh)

Months = חוֺדָשׁׅים (ho-da-shim)

Season (female) = עוֺנָה (o-na)

Seasons = עוֺנוֺת (o-not)

Transition season = עוֹנַת מַעֲבָר (o-nat ma-a-var)

Spring (masculine) = אָבׅיב (a-viv)

Autumn (masculine) = סְתָיו (s-tav)

Summer (masculine) = קַיׅץ (ka-itz)

Winter (masculine) = חוֺרֶף (ho-ref)

 

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