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.

EnglishHebrew originMeaning
abacusאבקdust
agoraאגורהsmall coin
aliyahעלייהascent
almemarאלממרbema
amenאמןcertainly
baalבעלlord
babelבללto confound
Bar Mitzvahבר מצוהson of the commandment
bathבתvolume measurement
bat mitzvahבת מצוהdaughter of the commandment
behemothבהמותbeast
bethelביתאלhouse of God
brisבריתcovenant
challahחלהleavened bread
chazanחזןcantor
cherubכרובangel
ciderשכרstrong drink
dybbukדיבוקwandering soul
edenicעדןdelight
ephahאיפה1/10 homer dry measure
ganefגנבthief
gerahגרהgrain
getגטdivorce document
golemגולםshapeless mass
goyגויnation
halachaהלכהway
halleluja, alleluiaהללויהpraise YHWH
hederחדרroom
homerחמרswell up
Hosannaהושענהsave
jubileeיובלram's horn
judasיהודהcelebrated
kashrutכשרbe appropriate
kibbutzקיבוץgathering
kiboshכבשdisregard
kosherכשרbe appropriate
leviathanלויתןsea monster
macabreמקבתhammer
matzoמצהunleavened bread
mavenמביןone who is experienced
mazeltovמזל טובgood luck
mazumaמזומןfixed
menorahמנורהcandlestick
meshugaמשוגעcrazy
messiahמשיחanointed one
midrashמדרשexplanation
mitzvahמצוהcommandment
mohelמוהלperson who performs circumcisions
pascalפסחpassover
pharaohפרעהEgyptian ruler
phariseeפרשseparate
rabbiרבmaster
sabbaticalשבתday of rest
satanשטןadversary
schmoozeשמועותrumor
schwaשואunstressed vowel
sederסדרorder
selahסלהpause
seraphשרףcelestial being / angel
shalomשלוםpeace
shamusשמשsexton
shegetzשקץblemish
shekelשקלweigh
shibbolethשיבולתstream
shiksaשקץabomination / racist insult to non-Jewish women
siddurסידורarrangement
sukkahסוכהbooth
teraphתרפיםhousehold god
Torahתורהlaw
tushתחתbeneath
tzitzitציציתtassels
yeshivaישיבהtalmudic school
yidיהודהcelebrated
zaddikצדיקrighteous

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:

EnglishGreekHebrew (presumed origin)
alphaΆλφαאלף
betaΒήταבית
gammaΓάμμαגמל
deltaΔέλταדלת
etaήταחית
iotaΙώταיד
kappaΚάππαכף
lambdaΛάμβδαלמד
nuΝυנון
piΠιפה
rhoΡωראש
tauΤαυתו

English names of Hebrew origin

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

English nameHebrew originMeaning
Abelia / Abelianהבלemptiness
Abigailאביגילfather of exhaltation
Adamאדםearth
Ammoniteעמוןof the tribe of Ammon
Bedlamבית לחםBethlehem
BejesusישועJesus / salvation
Benday / Benjaminבנימיןson of the right hand
Cassiaקסיהcinnamon
Davit / Davidדודbeloved
Haman / Hamantaschהמןvizier
Jack / Jacket / Jacobיעקבhe has protected
JehuיהואYHWH is
Jeremiadירמיהוthe Lord will rise
Jeroboamירבעםpeople will contend
Jesuitישועsalvation
Jezebelאיזבלchaste
Jimmyיעקבhe has protected
Jockeyיוחנןthe Lord is gracious
Joe / Josephיוסףhe shall add
Johnיוחנןthe Lord is gracious
Lazar / LazarettoאלעזרGod is my help
Macadum / Macadamiaאדםearth
Mary / MarionetteמריםMiryam
Michael / Mickמיכאלmikha'el
Nance / NancyחנהHannah / favored
Nimrodנמרודhunter
Philistine / Palestinianפלשתיםmigratory
Samaritanשמרונwatch station
Semiticשםname
Sodom / Sodomiteסדוםburnt
Tobyטוביהgoodness of YHWH
Yankeeיוחנןthe 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, 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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