Important Hebrew Words, Their Definition, and Pronunciation
These 25 words are particularly significant in the Hebrew language and most are commonly used in both biblical and modern Hebrew. Below you’ll find the meaningful Hebrew word, the transliteration of that word, and how to write the word in Hebrew letters. It may be confusing to determine the meaning of Hebrew words because they often carry a spectrum of meanings depending on the context they are used in. So, many of these Hebrew words also have a description to further enhance your understanding of that word.
Hebrew Word for Love
Transliteration: Ahava (AH-HA-VAH)
Hebrew Word for Kindness
Transliteration: Chesed (CHE-SEHd)
Hebrew Word for Blessed
Transliteration: Baruch (BAH-ROOCH)
Hebrew Word for Peace
Transliteration: Shalom (SHAH-LOHM)
Shalom translates to “peace” and is also used as both a greeting (hello) and farewell (goodbye). The Hebrew word shalom implies more than lack of conflict. It means completeness, wholeness, and peace for two entities, but also for an internal sense of peace for an individual.
Hebrew Word for Work
Transliteration: Avodah (AH-VOH-DAH)
Today, the word Avodah mainly relates to work like a job or career. But in Biblical Hebrew, the term Avodah was used to describe both work (labor) and worship (service). Perhaps one could devise key insight into the relationship between the two.
Hebrew Word for Light
Transliteration: Or (OR)
Hebrew Word for Spirit
Transliteration: Ruach (ROO-ACH)
Ruach is the Hebrew word for spirit, breath, and wind. It’s a fun word to say because it’s like you’re breathing life into the word by engaging your breath and lungs as you recite it.
Hebrew Word for Life
Transliteration: Chaim (CHAI-YEEM)
The Hebrew letters Chet and Yud spell the word Chai, which is usually pronounced like the English word “hi” or “high.” When you raise your glass and say “L’Chaim!” which means, “To Life!” at your next celebration, you can be sure that your Jewish friends are wishing you all the best life has to offer!
Hebrew Word for Prayer
Transliteration: Tefilah (TEH-FEE-LAH)
Hebrew Word for Beautiful
Transliteration: Yafah (YAH-FAH)
Hebrew Word for Hope
Transliteraton: Tikvah (TEEK-VAH)
The Hebrew word for hope has a lot of meaning associated with it given that Israel’s national anthem is titled Hatikvah or “The Hope.” The piece’s lyrics are adapted from a work by Naftali Herz Imber in which he relates the 2,000-year-old hope the Jewish people maintained to return to their homeland.
Hebrew Word for Wisdom
Transliteration: Chochmah (CHOCH-MAH)
Hebrew Word for Truth
Transliteration: Emet (EH-MET)
Hebrew Word for Joy
Transliteration: Simcha (SEEM-CHAH)
Jews often use the word simcha to mean a festive occasion. The term can be used to describe any happy occasion like a B’nai Mitzvah, engagement, or wedding.
Hebrew Word for Praise
Transliteration: Halel (HA-LEIL)
Hebrew Word for Heart
Transliteration: Lev (LEV)
Hebrew Word for Family
Transliteration: Mishpacha (MEESH-PAH-CHA)
Hebrew Word for Soul
Transliteration: Nefesh (NEH-FESH)
Hebrew Word for King
Transliteration: Melech (MEH-LECH)
Melech or king is part of the opening phrase, Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech Ha’olam, which we see in many Hebrew prayers. The phrase translates as follows: Blessed are You, Adonai Our God, Ruler of the Universe. Melech or king is often directly translated to ruler in prayer books. Malcha is the Hebrew word for queen.
Hebrew Word for Miracle
Transliteration: Nes (NEHs)
Each side of the dreidel has a different Hebrew letter, GIMEL, HEY, NUN, and SHIN, which represents the first letters of a Hebrew phrase, Nes Gadol Haya Sham or “A Great Miracle Happened There”. Nes starts with the letter NUN and if you spin the dreidel and it lands on the letter NUN, you do nothing.
Hebrew Word for World
Transliteration: Olam (OH-LAHM)
Hebrew Word for Teacher
Transliteration: Moreh (MOH-REH)
Hebrew Word for Freedom
Transliteration: Chofesh (CHO-FESH)
Hebrew Word for Friend
Transliteration: Chaver (CHA-VEIR)
Hebrew Word for Earth
Transliteration: Eretz (EH-RETS)
Eretz is a Hebrew word that means both earth, as in the physical ground, and land like country. The term Eretz Yisrael translates directly to the Land of Israel. You’ll also often come across the phrase Mei’eretz Mitzrayim in the Torah because it literally translates to “from the land of Egypt.”
Are there any other Hebrew words that you would like to learn more about? Let us know in the comments below! And don’t forget to check out these other posts on the BMA blog:
The 25 Most Significant Jewish Symbols Explained
What is a Bimah in Judaism? The Hebrew Word for Platform
An Incredibly Useful Hebrew Vowels Chart and Explanation
Common Jewish Greetings and Phrases: When to Say What!