Everything you need to know about “thank you” in Hebrew!

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

תודה (toh-dah) means thanks in Hebrew, and is probably one of the first words you encounter when you start to learn the language. However, it is not as simple as it first seems…

The word can take different prepositions depending on the situation, and it’s derived from a verb that has an interesting double meaning. Surprisingly, it also refers to the name of the Jewish people and to the Thanksgiving turkey. So, let me take you on a journey with the word תודה!

Some of you may know the word Jewish or יהודים (yeh-huh-deem) comes from the name Judha or יהודה (ye-huh-dah). It is told in the book of Genesis, that after Leah gave birth to Judah, she gave thanks to God and praised him for her good fortune. The name comes from the verb לֵהוֹדוֹת (leh-hoh-doht) which means – to thank. However, it also means to confess or to admit something. It seems like in the bible, these two verbs were strongly related and sometimes even interchangeable.

Now let’s first talk about toh-dah’s everyday uses:

The first use is a simple thank you. If you want to thank someone deeply, you can say תודה רבה (toh-dah rah-bah), which means thanks a lot.

When thanking someone for something specific they brought, you can add the preposition על (ahl). for exp. Thank you for the cake תודה על העוגה (toh-dah ahl hah-oo-gah).
And when you want to thank someone for doing something, just add the preposition ֶש. For exp. Thanks for coming תודה שבאת (toh-dah sheh-bah-tah).

And now – the Thanksgiving turkey!
The Hebrew translation of “they thanked”, or “they confessed” would be הם הוֹדוּ (hehm hoh-doo). Funny enough, Hoh-duh is both the name for the country of India and the Hebrew name for Turkey תרנגול הודו (tahr-neh-gohl hoh-doo), literally meaning- Indian rooster! And that’s how it’s all related to Thanksgiving.

So now, you know everything you need to know about the word toh-dah… You only have 69,994 words to go!

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