Two in One: the coolest double meanings in Hebrew

1 min read
Hilly Perlman, Citizen Cafè teacher
Hilly Perlman, Citizen Cafè teacher

Did you know that there are approximately 1 million words used in modern English, while only 75,000 in Hebrew?!

Those of you learning Hebrew must feel relieved… However, it also means that Hebrew has quite a few double meanings.
Some of them make a lot of sense, while others, well… You will get used to them over time. Context is always the key to understanding the right meaning of the word.

Let’s start with a double meaning that has a nice reasoning behind it:

The Hebrew word פקק (pkahk) means traffic jam, but it also means cork. It make sense if you think about it, as they both stop movement – one of liquids and the other of vehicles.

You might know the verb to tell לספר (leh-sah-pehr), but did you know its other commonly used meaning is – to cut hair? In that case, you can distinguish between the two meanings by checking the preposition that follows the verb:

He tells me: הוא מספר לי (hooh meh-sah-pehr lee)

He is cutting my hair: הוא מספר אותי (hoo meh-sah-pehr oh-tee)

** There are no hacks for this one, you just have to remember which prepositions goes with each meaning.

And here’s a nice surprise for you – some double meanings are the same in Hebrew and English!

The verb for lighting something (a candle, a fire, a light) in the present tense is מדליק (mahd-leek), which is also a slang word for cool! Just like the slang word “lit” in English, comes from the verb “to light”. So when someone tells you – היא מדליקה (hee mahd-lee-kah) – you’ll have to try and figure out whether she is lighting something up or if she’s just super lit!

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