Hebrew Language Blog

Hebrew You Already Know Posted by on May 24, 2012 in Learning Hebrew

Some people claim that Hebrew is the mother of all languages. No matter what its history or origin, Hebrew, a language that has its origins in the Fertile Crescent, has crept into North American–spoken English. And this process works in reverse too, as many English words and phrases have crept into the Hebrew language. Interestingly enough — while you as an English speaker may identify these words as “English,” some of these words derive from Italian and French, which shows the universality of certain words.

If you’ve ever been to a synagogue or had a bit of Jewish education, you probably already know a little Hebrew. But even if you’ve never walked through a synagogue’s door or studied anything Jewish, you still probably know some Hebrew words. For example, you have probably heard the word amen. That word is Hebrew! “Amen” comes from a word meaning faith or belief and people usually say it at the end of a prayer. And the word Hallelujah? Hebrew again! The word literally means, “Praise God.” Even the word alphabet derives from the Hebrew words for the first two letters of its alphabet, aleph א and בּ bet.

Of course, you may have heard of other Jewish words, such as שלפּ shlep (to drag or pull) and קוטש kv-ehch (to complain), that are actually Yiddish, that are also a part of the Israeli vernacular today. You may never even have thought about other words that have Hebrew roots. For example, did you know that cinnamon is a derivative of the Hebrew word קִנָּמוֹן (kee-nah-mohn) which appears in the Biblical book, The Song of Songs?

There are lots of words that you can find that don’t require too much effort – other than being able to read the alphabet. Here’s a listing of words that are found in Hebrew that are borrowed from English:

avocado – אָבוֹקָדוֹ – ah-voh-kah-doh

banana – בָּנָנָה – bah-nah-nah

bank – בַּנְק – bahnk

cafe – קָפֶה – cah-feh

camel – גָּמָל – gah-mahl

cello – צֶ’לוֹ – cheh-loh

chips (french fries) –צִ’יפְּס – cheeps

chocolate – שׁוֹקוֹלָד – sho-ko-lahd

Coca Cola – – ko-ka-ko-la

coffee – קָפֶה – cah-feh

concert – קוֹנְצֶרְט – kohn-tsert

electronics – אֶלֶקְטְרוֹנִיקָה – eh-lehk-trohn-eekah

hamburger – הַמְבּוּרְגֶּר – hahm-boor-gehr

internet – אִינְטֶרְנֶט – een-tehr-neht

ketchup – קֶטְשׁוֹפּ – kehch-ohp

kiosk – קְיוֹסְק – kee-osk

macaroni – מָקָרוֹנִי – mah-kah-roh-nee

margarine – מַרְגָּרִינָה – mahr-gahr-ee-nah

mathematics – מָתֶמָטִיקָה – mah-teh-mah-tee-kah

mayonnaise – מָיוֹנֶז – mah-yoh-nehz

mint – מִנְתָּה – meen-tah

museum – מוּזֵאוֹן – moo-zeh-ee-ohn

music – מוּזִיקָה – moo-zee-kah

okay – אוֹ קֵי – okay

pizza – פִּיצָה – pee-tsah

politics – פּוֹלִיטִיקָה – poh-lee-tee-kah

professor – פְּרוֹפֶסוֹר – proh-fess-ohr

radio – רַדְיוֹ – rah-dee-oh

salad – סָלָט – sah-laht

sandwich – סֶנְדְּוִיץ – sehnd-veech

student – סְטוּדֶנְט – stoo-dent

sugar – סֻכָּר – soo-khahr / soo-kahr

supermarket – סוּפֶּרְמַרְקֶט – soo-pehr-mahr-keht

tea – תֵּה – teh

telephone – טֶלֶפוֹן – teh-leh-fohn

television – טֶלֶוִיזְיָה – teh-leh-vee-zee-yah

theater – תֵּאַטְרוֹן – teh-aht-rohn

university – אוּנִיבֶרְסִיטָה – oo-nee-vehr-sii-teh

video – וִידֵאוֹ – vee-deh-oh

zoology – זוֹאוֹלוֹגְיָה – zoh-oh-loh-gee-ah

The Academy for Hebrew Language, (the institute responsible for creating Modern Hebrew words), did create an authentic Hebrew word for the telephone. The academy called the telephone a Sach-Rachok (sahch-rahchohk), which put together the words for conversation and long distance. So telephone translated as “long-distance conversation.” Pretty clever, huh? However this word didn’t stick with the Israeli public. So טֶלֶפוֹן is staying around for a little while.

Do you want a way to learn Hebrew vocabulary quickly and easily? Try out the Before You Know It Express software from transparent language? It’s free to download, free to use as long as you want. You can download it from their website here: http://www.byki.com/fls/free-hebrew-software-download.html?l=hebrew

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About the Author: Sean Young

Learning languages since 1978 and studying over 50 (achieving fluency in 10). Sean L. Young loves giving tips, advice and the secrets you need to learn a language successfully no matter what language you're learning. Currently studying Hindi and blogging his progress right here at Transparent Language - https://blogs.transparent.com/language-news.


  1. hakim:

    i began to learne hebrew a few weeks ago just by myself on the net i was very surprised to realise that there ‘re many hebrew words which ‘re the same as in arabic language and also its gramatical structure works by the same logic; so i don’t know which language has borrowed from the other and affected it. logically i think hebrew is older than arabic so it has a great infleunce on this language if i can’t say hebrew is the origine of arabic language ;but arabe liars theached us when we were children that arabic is the mother of all languages and is Adam’s language in order to justify destroying our own languages and origines but they have failed because the result today we master thier language bettre than they do and we didn’t lost our mother tongues
    concerning this lessen i wonder if the word גָמֵל is derivide from syrianic or aramiac who gives jaml in arabic and it enter in englishe as camel if we understand the environment of languages

  2. Shoshana Cramer:

    You missed Lemon.
    I thought mint was nana as in lemonana tea or juice????