Hebrew-English Cognates: Vocabulary List For Easy Reference

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Hebrew-English Cognates: Vocabulary List For Easy Reference

There are quite a lot of Hebrew-English cognates that make the process of learning Hebrew much easier.

What is a cognate?

These are words that are related or derived from each other.

For example, the word cider (a refreshing beverage in English) comes from the Hebrew word שכר (shekhar) meaning “strong drink”.

There are also many Hebrew words that are so common in English that they have become part of the English language (e.g. amen after prayers).

Cognates are always a good starting point when learning new vocabulary since you’re able to acquire a large number of already-known words very quickly.

See the lists (by no means exhaustive) below and bookmark this page for easy reference.

List of Hebrew-English cognates

Here you’ll find an alphabetical list of many Hebrew-English cognates.

English Hebrew origin Meaning
abacus אבק dust
agora אגורה small coin
aliyah עלייה ascent
almemar אלממר bema
amen אמן certainly
baal בעל lord
babel בלל to confound
Bar Mitzvah בר מצוה son of the commandment
bath בת volume measurement
bat mitzvah בת מצוה daughter of the commandment
behemoth בהמות beast
bethel ביתאל house of God
bris ברית covenant
challah חלה leavened bread
chazan חזן cantor
cherub כרוב angel
cider שכר strong drink
dybbuk דיבוק wandering soul
edenic עדן delight
ephah איפה 1/10 homer dry measure
ganef גנב thief
gerah גרה grain
get גט divorce document
golem גולם shapeless mass
goy גוי nation
halacha הלכה way
halleluja, alleluia הללויה praise YHWH
heder חדר room
homer חמר swell up
Hosanna הושענה save
jubilee יובל ram’s horn
judas יהודה celebrated
kashrut כשר be appropriate
kibbutz קיבוץ gathering
kibosh כבש disregard
kosher כשר be appropriate
leviathan לויתן sea monster
macabre מקבת hammer
matzo מצה unleavened bread
maven מבין one who is experienced
mazeltov מזל טוב good luck
mazuma מזומן fixed
menorah מנורה candlestick
meshuga משוגע crazy
messiah משיח anointed one
midrash מדרש explanation
mitzvah מצוה commandment
mohel מוהל person who performs circumcisions
pascal פסח passover
pharaoh פרעה Egyptian ruler
pharisee פרש separate
rabbi רב master
sabbatical שבת day of rest
satan שטן adversary
schmooze שמועות rumor
schwa שוא unstressed vowel
seder סדר order
selah סלה pause
seraph שרף celestial being / angel
shalom שלום peace
shamus שמש sexton
shegetz שקץ blemish
shekel שקל weigh
shibboleth שיבולת stream
shiksa שקץ abomination / racist insult to non-Jewish women
siddur סידור arrangement
sukkah סוכה booth
teraph תרפים household god
Torah תורה law
tush תחת beneath
tzitzit ציצית tassels
yeshiva ישיבה talmudic school
yid יהודה celebrated
zaddik צדיק righteous

Greek letter names of (presumed) Hebrew origin

It’s fair to say that many of the Greek letter names have become a part of English due to their wide usage in mathematics and so on.

Some of these Greek letters are presumed to share a common origin with Hebrew (and Phoenician) letter names.

See the following table for reference:

English Greek Hebrew (presumed origin)
alpha Άλφα אלף
beta Βήτα בית
gamma Γάμμα גמל
delta Δέλτα דלת
eta ήτα חית
iota Ιώτα יד
kappa Κάππα כף
lambda Λάμβδα למד
nu Νυ נון
pi Πι פה
rho Ρω ראש
tau Ταυ תו

English names of Hebrew origin

Below you’ll find a list of names (and variations) of Hebrew origin that are common in English.

English name Hebrew origin Meaning
Abelia / Abelian הבל emptiness
Abigail אביגיל father of exhaltation
Adam אדם earth
Ammonite עמון of the tribe of Ammon
Bedlam בית לחם Bethlehem
Bejesus ישוע Jesus / salvation
Benday / Benjamin בנימין son of the right hand
Cassia קסיה cinnamon
Davit / David דוד beloved
Haman / Hamantasch המן vizier
Jack / Jacket / Jacob יעקב he has protected
Jehu יהוא YHWH is
Jeremiad ירמיהו the Lord will rise
Jeroboam ירבעם people will contend
Jesuit ישוע salvation
Jezebel איזבל chaste
Jimmy יעקב he has protected
Jockey יוחנן the Lord is gracious
Joe / Joseph יוסף he shall add
John יוחנן the Lord is gracious
Lazar / Lazaretto אלעזר God is my help
Macadum / Macadamia אדם earth
Mary / Marionette מרים Miryam
Michael / Mick מיכאל mikha’el
Nance / Nancy חנה Hannah / favored
Nimrod נמרוד hunter
Philistine / Palestinian פלשתים migratory
Samaritan שמרונ watch station
Semitic שם name
Sodom / Sodomite סדום burnt
Toby טוביה goodness of YHWH
Yankee יוחנן the Lord is gracious

You know more Hebrew than you realize

Just looking at the lists above, you can see that you actually know quite a bit of Hebrew already.

Add to this the fact that Modern Hebrew uses many loanwords from European languages (as well as numerals), and you quickly realize that Hebrew is not as exotic as you first thought.

Want to go further with your Hebrew study? Refer to our guide on the best online Hebrew courses.


Did I miss any important cognates?

Comment below.

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Donovan Nagel
Donovan Nagel - B. Th, MA AppLing
I'm an Applied Linguistics graduate, teacher and translator with a passion for language learning (especially Arabic).
Currently learning: Greek
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