Dr Ghil`ad Zuckermann's
Review of the Oxford Pocket English-Hebrew Dictionary

Appeared in Journal of Modern Jewish Studies, Vol. 3, No. 2 (2004): 225-233




Ya’acov Levy. Oxford Pocket Dictionary – English-Hebrew / Hebrew-English. Jerusalem: Kernerman – Lonnie Kahn, 2002. 725 (472+253) pages. ISBN 965-307-033-9.


The Oxford Pocket Dictionary – English-Hebrew / Hebrew-English (OPD) is a reliable and user-friendly edition, which makes the most of its pocket-book format. It is easily portable, measuring 149X104 mm, and weighing only 440 grams despite its 725 pages. The print is clear and the layout – two columns per page – comfortable to scan. Words are easy to find, with the help of word-headings on the top-outer corners of each page, and shaded letter tabs. The coverage is up-to-date, taking account of computer terminology, and including some words absent even from the more exhaustive (but sometimes less contemporary) Oxford English-Hebrew Dictionary. Glosses are simple but accurate, and the headwords usefully cover irregular past and past participle verb forms, plurals of nouns, and comparative and superlative forms of adjectives.

Because of its size, however, OPD necessarily has some restrictions. It omits phonetic transcription, illustrations, and other ancillary material, and makes no distinction between homonymy and polysemy. The use of subentries, in which the headword serves as a component, is limited, and some expressions which would have been listed as subentries by other dictionaries function in OPD as headwords. For example, specific gravity comes as a headword after specification rather than being listed under specific. At times, however, the dictionary’s anomalies cannot beg the excuse of economy. For instance, when the gloss of the noun is long or includes subentries, the verb is listed as a separate headword, yet when the gloss is short, the verb may be listed separately, or under the same headword, without any obvious logic. While the choice and spelling of headwords reflect American conventions, British expressions are used sporadically (e.g. doughnut (GB) appears but not donut (US)), often without any indication of the difference (cf. dial/dialling tone).

OPD is bidirectional, but unequally balanced between English and Israeli. The English-Israeli section (454+16 pages) is almost twice as large as the Israeli-English section (253 pages). The two sections are also inconsistent in their range of usage labels. The English-Israeli section has only one label, colloquial, denoting register, and none denoting style (e.g. archaic), field (e.g. Theatre) or geographical distribution (e.g. US). However, in the Israeli-English section, figurative (cf. נחשול, מעטה), literary (e.g. עתה, נחתום, ציה), military (e.g. פלוגה), and slang (e.g. צ'חצ'ח), as well as colloquial (e.g. פלוס), occur.

The readership to which OPD is best suited is native Israeli speakers who are not beginners in English. Beginners would find it difficult to cope with the absence of phonetic transcription and examples of usage. Still, OPD could help experienced learners of Israeli too, through its inclusion of details such as the transitivity of Israeli verbs. However, the omission of prepositional complementation is less helpful. If a student of Israeli encounters המליץ ‘to recommend’, s/he cannot tell that it is המליץ ל... על... himlíts le- al-. OPD usefully specifies the gender, and sometimes the plural form, of Israeli nouns.  It also stipulates the gender of Israeli numbers, a detail which would certainly help not only to students of Israeli, but many native speakers too…




Ya’acov Levy. Oxford Pocket Dictionary – English-Hebrew / Hebrew-English. Jerusalem: Kernerman – Lonnie Kahn, 2002. 725 (472+253) pages. ISBN 965-307-033-9.


Hebrew, used by Jewish people since the thirteenth century BCE, ceased to be spoken during the second century CE. For more than 1700 years it served as a liturgical and literary language for Jews of the Diaspora, and although occasionally also as a lingua franca, was not in use as a mother tongue. What I call ‘Israeli’ was launched at the end of the nineteenth century by Eliezer Ben-Yehuda and others. The genetic classification of Israeli has preoccupied linguists since the beginning of the twentieth century. The traditional view, still prevalent, suggests that it is Semitic – (Biblical/Mishnaic) Hebrew revived – and that Hebrew served as the substratum of Israeli. The revisionist position defines Israeli as Indo-European – Yiddish relexified – and that Yiddish, the ‘revivalists’’ mother tongue, was the substratum whilst Hebrew was only a superstratum. According to my own, hybridizational theory, Israeli is both Semitic and Indo-European, since both Hebrew and Yiddish acted as its primary contributors. Thus, the term ‘Israeli’ is far more appropriate than ‘Israeli Hebrew’, let alone ‘Modern Hebrew’ or ‘Hebrew’ tout court.

Accordingly, the first mistake of the otherwise reliable, user-friendly Oxford Pocket Dictionary English-Hebrew / Hebrew-English (henceforth, OPD) appears in its title. It is time to acknowledge that the language spoken by Israelis (reflected in OPD) is very different from the Hebrew of the past. OPD is definitely not suitable for a theologian who studies Hebrew, not only because s/he will normally use a more comprehensive dictionary, but also because the glosses reflect Israeli, not Hebrew. Thus, אקדח ekdákh is only ‘pistol, handgun’, reflecting its modern usage rather than its biblical meaning ‘carbuncle, carbuncle-stone (red precious stone used for decoration)’ (see Isaiah 54:12). Likewise, many of OPD’s Israeli headwords are current colloquialisms and internationalisms.

This review will first examine OPD’s structure and general characteristics, usage labels, subentries, American versus British conventions and variant spellings. This will be followed by a discussion of target audience, descriptiveness/prescriptiveness, vocalization and diacritics, as well as virtues and flaws of the glosses and headwords.

1.  General description

OPD is bidirectional, English-Israeli (454+16 pages) and Israeli-English (253 pages). Each entry consists of the headword, grammatical designation (e.g. n., but note that there is no mention of v.i., v.t. in the English-Israeli section, although the parallel פ"י and פ"ע appear in the Israeli-English section) and gloss. As a pocket dictionary, OPD does not include phonetic transcription, drawings, sketches or other assisting material. The glosses are, by and large, accurate, up-to-date and clear, and the headwords are free from typographical errors.

There is no distinction between homonymy and polysemy: in both cases, all sememes are classified under the same headword, e.g. bunk מיטה; מיטת קומתים; שטויות’. The same system sometimes applies to words acting both as a verb and as a noun, e.g. mutiny n., v. and e-mail n., v. However,  screw n. and screw v., as well as scribble n. and scribble v., are listed separately. It seems that when the gloss of the noun is long or includes subentries, the verb is listed as a separate headword. When the gloss of the noun is short, both possibilities (listing the verb either separately or under the same headword) occur without an obvious logic.

In the case of English irregular verbs, the past and past participle forms are mentioned after the headword. Likewise, in pp. 467-72, there is a separate list of such forms. Most importantly for user-friendliness – and this is definitely one of the strengths of OPD – irregular past and past participle forms are also listed as headwords. Furthermore, irregular plurals, as well as irregular comparative/superlative forms, are also mentioned as headwords (but, unfortunately, not after the unmarked – e.g. singular – form), for example best, better, children, farther, geese, hooves, mice and oxen.

In the headwords of the Israeli-English section, verbs appear – paradigmatically – in their past singular masculine form, although the form preferred in the case of ‘breast-feed’ is – naturally – היניקה heyníka, the feminine form (but without the gender being explicitly mentioned).

The physical format of OPD – containing 725 pages, measuring 149X104 mm and weighing 440 grams – makes it easily portable. The print is clear and the layout – in two columns per page – renders the text comfortable to scan. Despite the lack of colour, a desired lexical item is easily traceable. The word-headings on the top-outer corners of each page successfully guide the reader’s eye. There are also shaded letter tabs, which might help the user to open the dictionary close to the headword being searched.

2.  Usage labels

In the English-Israeli section, there are no usage labels denoting register (such as formal/literary) other than colloquial, which only appears occasionally. Neither are there usage labels denoting style (e.g. poetic, vulgar, derogatory, jocular, figurative, euphemism, archaic), field (e.g. Theatre, Computing) or geographical distribution (e.g. UK, US). However, in the Israeli-English section, figurative (cf. נחשול, מעטה), literary (e.g. עתה, נחתום, ציה), military (e.g. פלוגה), slang (e.g. צ'חצ'ח), as well as colloquial (e.g. פלוס), are sometimes used. There are some inconsistencies, e.g. מציצה ‘blow job’ is referred to as slang but not זיין ‘to fuck’. פישתן pishtán ‘linen; flax’ is said to be colloquial whilst פישל fishél ‘bungle, screw up, fuck up, blow it’ is not. Perhaps the label assigner thought of the homograph פישתן fishtén/ pishtén ‘pissed (m, sg)’, a slangism hybridizing Yiddish פּישן píshņ and Israeli השתין hishtín, both meaning ‘to piss’. I would not regard פישתן pishtán ‘linen; flax’ as a slangism.

מרובע is glossed as ‘quadrilateral, quadrangle, square’ without any label indicating that this word has the widespread human connotation of a conservative individual who acts by the book, a ‘stick in the mud’, uninspired and uninpsiring, yet fundamentally a decent person. The fact that square, which can also possess this figurative meaning, appears in the definiens is not sufficient, in my view, to make sure that the reader is aware of the metaphor. Similarly, white elephant is defined literally as פיל לבן without any hint of the figurative sense. The fact that the very same פיל לבן is used by some Israeli speakers to refer to ‘burdensome or costly possession’ should not exempt the lexicographer from mentioning this figurative sense of the English expression.

3.  Subentries

The use of subentries, in which the headword serves as a component (especially compounds), exists but is, obviously, limited. Some expressions which would have been listed as subentries by other dictionaries function in OPD as headwords. For example, specific gravity comes as a headword after specification rather than being listed under specific. One should not expect to find phrases such as go Dutch, say cheese!, I stand corrected, and as pure as driven snow (although be snowed under (with) appears), or illustrative sentences like let’s take a trip down memory lane, and that music’s right up my street. However, fly in the ointment (glossed as אליה וקוץ בה) is there, and nominal phrases (e.g. walking encyclopedia/papers/stick, poor sod, a left-handed compliment) and phrasal verbs (e.g. walk away/out…, sod off) are often listed. This is very helpful for distinguishing between sememes – cf. application form (טופס בקשה) versus application generator (מחולל יישׂומים). The idioms the real McCoy, בכל רמ"ח אבריו and למגינת-ליבו are listed, under McCoy, רמ"ח and מגינה respectively.

4.  American versus British conventions; variant spellings

The choice of headwords and their spelling reflect American conventions. Whilst eggplant (US) is mentioned, neither aubergine (GB) nor brinjal (e.g. India) appear. Whereas ass is mentioned, arse (GB) is not. zip-fastener (GB) and hustings (GB) are not mentioned either. Some British expressions are included without specifying their Britishness – see dial / dialling tone (the latter being British). In fact, as mentioned above, there is no dialect labelling and the added US and GB here are mine. The non-American VAT is listed, and whereas donut (US) does not appear, doughnut (GB) does. Whilst check (US) is referred to as צ'ק chek, cheque is שק shek. One might wonder whether or not the author had the same referent in mind. Both peddler (US) and pedlar (GB), antenna (US) and aerial (GB), postcode (GB) and zip code (US), appear but are not cross-referenced.

Very occasionally, cross-references do appear – in the case of variant spellings. For example, in colour n., v. there is no gloss and the reader is referred to color. plow and plough, as well as vigor and vigour, are mentioned together. archaeology and archeology, as well as hellohullohallo, gaoljail, aeroplane–airplane, moustache–mustache and medievalmediaeval, are glossed separately without cross-references. indorse (a variant of endorse), sizable (cf. sizeable) and catsup (cf. ketchup) are not mentioned. The Israeli-English section includes variant spellings too: נורבגיה-נורווגיה ‘Norway’ appear together; טלביזיה-טלוויזיה ‘television’ are listed separately; פאשלה ‘bungle’ is cross-referenced with פשלה but not vice versa.

5.  Target audience

The audience for which OPD is most suitable is native Israeli speakers who are not beginners in English. Non-beginners should be able to cope with the absence of phonetic transcription and of basic usage illustrations. The English-Israeli section is almost twice as large as the Israeli-English section and I would not attribute this (merely) to the fact that English has more lexical items than Israeli. Thus, OPD is most suitbable for an Israeli who reads English at an intermediate or advanced level.

Still, OPD could help non-beginner learners of Israeli too. Transitivity of Israeli verbs is mentioned. However, prepositional complementation is often omitted. If a learner of Israeli encounters המליץ ‘to recommend’, s/he cannot tell that it is המליץ ל... על... himlíts le- al-. In the case of Israeli nouns, gender is mentioned and occasionally plural form too. In the case of numbers, OPD mentions whether the Israeli form is considered masculine or feminine, which might be helpful to learners of Israeli (and indeed to many native speakers too).

6.  Descriptiveness versus prescriptiveness

OPD is inconsistent with regard to descriptiveness. Some Israeli glosses include commonly used foreignisms, often specifying the phonetic adaptation of the very English headword, e.g. hangover is הנג אובר heng over rather than חמרמורת khamarmóret (the latter was proposed by the Academy of the Hebrew Language in LL 4, March 1994). cell(ular) phone is טלפון סלולרי télefon selulári. The gloss for rating includes both רייטינג réyting and מדרוג midrúg, the latter having been proposed by the Academy of the Hebrew Language on 20 November 1995 (cf. Akadém 8: 1, March 1996). jet lag is defined as both ג'ט לג jét leg and yaéfet (the latter was proposed by the Academy of the Hebrew Language in LL 4, March 1994). villa is both וילה and the puristic ‘semanticized phonetic matching’ (cf. Zuckermann 2000) חווילה. However, handbrake is glossed only as בלם יד bélem yad, ignoring the widespread loanword אמברקס ámbreks. Whilst sweater is defined as the commonly used סוודר svéder, sweatshirt is glossed only as the puristic מיזע meyzá – omitting the Israeli foreignism סווצ'ר swécher. סוודר svéder ‘sweater, pullover’, as well as פלייר pláyer ‘pliers’, is listed as a headword.

If an English-speaker tells an Israeli that s/he lives in a bungalow, the Israeli might pity her/him for not having enough money for a house – cf. the Israeli faux ami בונגלו búngalo ‘hut’. In order to avoid such a misunderstanding, in the gloss for bungalow, OPD – after mentioning בונגלוwisely indicates in brackets בית חד-קומתי, lit. ‘one-storey house’. However, in this case, I would have avoided using the ‘parallel Israeli foreignism’ (בונגלו) in the gloss.

Vulgar and taboo English lexical items, as well as politically incorrect sememes, are often omitted. As in NODE and MWCD – though not OED and OEHDJew is not explained as ‘huckster’ or ‘bargainer’. Jewess is not said to be sometimes used derogatorily. However, Frog is referred to as (כינוי גנאי ל-) צרפתי ‘(a derogatory term for) French’, and Yid (יהודון), kike (יהודון) and Negro (כושי) are listed as well. The colloquialisms used in the glosses are up-to-date: smart aleck is defined as "חכם גדול", חוכמולוג (I would have added the possible ‘partial phono-semantic matching’ – cf. Zuckermann 2000, 2003 – "חכם עליכּ" khakhám álek); sloppy work is "מריחה", עבודה רשלנית, חפיף.

As in Levenston and Sivan (1982) and Segal and Dagut (1994) – and unlike OEHDOPD avoids blowjob, fellatio and cunnilingus. However, the Israeli-English section seems to be more descriptive: מציצה metsitsá is mentioned and is, in fact, defined as ‘blow job’. מניאק mányak (glossed as ‘sex maniac, gay, son of a bitch’), cunt, כוס (kus ‘cunt’), dick, cock, and זין (záin ‘cock, dick’) are mentioned too. Whereas slut and fuck off! are mentioned, wank, jerk off and toss off are absent.

Occasionally, the form of the Israeli lexical item is the commonly used one, as opposed to that advocated by the Academy of the Hebrew Language or Even-Shoshan’s (puristic) dictionary. For instance, consistent is עקבי ikví rather than עקיב akív (the latter is argued for in Akadém 11: 1, May 1997; YP 1998: 1076; and Even-Shoshan 1997: 1362c). timing is עיתוי itúy and not עיתות itút (ibid.: 1389b). Choosing such forms, OPD partially accepts that native speakers’ ‘mistakes’ of today can very well become the grammar of tomorrow. Many linguists (but especially non-linguists) oppose such a ‘reckless’ attitude, often forgetting that much of what they now regard as grammatical started off as ‘incorrect’ usage of their ancestors.

Whilst gynecologist is defined as גינקולוג ginekológ (with its puristic form), both this one and the more common form גניקולוג genikológ are mentioned in the Israeli-English section. Whilst museum is defined as the commonly used מוזיאון muzéon, leaving the ‘snobbative’  מוסיאוןmuséon only to the Israeli-English section, music is glossed with the puristic מוסיקה sika, but the more common מוזיקהzika appears in the Israeli-English section. However, OPD prefers the puristic  מיטת קומתים mitát komatáim (see bunk) to the widespread ‘mistaken’ מיטת קומותים mitát komotáim.

7.  Vocalization and diacritics

The current prevalent spelling among Israelis and Israeli newspapers is ktiv malé, scriptio plena’, full spelling – as opposed to ktiv khasér, the Hebrew biblical, ‘defective’ spelling, which lacks the vowel letters. Therefore, although ktiv khasér is still the spelling used in most Israeli/Hebrew dictionaries (e.g. Even-Shoshan 1997), OPD’s choice of ktiv malé (like Inbal 1994-5) is justified – especially given that it is highly unlikely that someone might consult OPD when encountering an unfamiliar word in the Old Testament. Employing ktiv malé allows for the creation of an elegant minimal pair such as מאפיה máfya ‘Mafia’ (also spelled by OPD as מפיה but note that Mafia does not appear as a headword) and מאפייה maafiyá ‘bakery’.

As in most dictionaries involving Israeli or Hebrew, vocalization (vowel marking, nikúd ‘pointing’) appears in all the Israeli headwords and glosses. Vocalization here has a double function: for learners of Israeli – helping with the pronunciation, and for every user (including native Israeli speakers) – assisting in distinguishing between Israeli words which are otherwise spelled the same – cf. גן gan ‘garden’ and גן gen ‘gene’. I remember looking for a Morasha Shooting Range (thinking it might be near Morasha Junction, not far from Tel Aviv) because I was asked to go to מטווח מורשה in order to renew a handgun license. מורשה actually stood for murshé ‘authorized, allowed, permitted’ (and also ‘deputy, representative, delegate’), whilst מורשה morashá literally means ‘legacy, inheritance, heritage’. Finally, מורשה – using ktiv khasér – could also stand for mivársha ‘from Warsaw’. Similarly, השפלה can stand for both hashfelá ‘the lowland’ and hashpalá ‘humiliation’. The newspaper headline ערפאת היה בבון can easily be misread as arafát hayá babún ‘Arafat was a baboon’ instead of arafát hayá bebón ‘Arafat was in Bonn’.[1]

OPD’s vocalization sometimes follows the (occasionally out-of-date) orthoepistic efforts of the Academy of the Hebrew Language. For example,  פצצת זמן(see under פצצה, as well as time bomb) and פצצת סרחון (see stink bomb) are pitsetsát zman and pitsetsát sirkhón respectively, rather than the actually-used ptsatsát zman and ptsatsát sirakhón. ישׂראלי (see also Israeli) is isreelí although it is ‘really’ israelí, קונדס (see also in the gloss for practical joke and prank) is vocalized as kundés rather than the widespread kundás, מכשפה (see also hag) is mekhashefá instead of the demotic makhshefá, תמנון (see also octopus) is puristically tmanún, rather than tamnún, and פגע-וברח תאונת  (see also hit-and-run) is teunát pagá uvarákh rather than the commonly used teunát pga uvrákh. Verbs like ציחצח, פיענח and פיעפע are vocalized as tsikhtsákh, pianákh and piapá respectively, although they are usually pronounced tsikhtséakh, pianéakh and piapéa.

בכאב צורב (see poignantly) is vocalized bikheév tsorév although it is commonly pronounced bekeév tsorév. Interestingly, בּכּריכה רכּה, the gloss for softcover, is vocalized puristically but diacriticized (with a dagesh) descriptively resulting in the ‘shaatnezbikrikhá raká. Whilst most Israelis say bekrikhá raká, purists prefer bikhrikhá raká, but the semi-puristic bikrikhá raká is rare. pop in is matched with לקפוץ. However, whilst the latter is a colloquialism, it is diacriticized by OPD normatively: likpóts as opposed to likfóts. However, fuck is still לדפוק lidfók rather than lidpók, the latter being the prescriptive form of ‘knock’ but – despite the opinion of at least one (purist) linguist colleague of mine – cannot be used with the meaning ‘fuck’. Whilst the diacritics in כיכב (and לככב) in the Israeli-English section are descriptive: kikhév and lekakhév rather than kikév and lekhakév, those in the English-Israeli section are prescriptive: lekhakév (see star v. and co-star v.).

Sometimes, OPD’s vocalization is descriptive, reflecting the ‘mistakes’ of native speakers. For example, תת מקלע (see both sub-machine-gun and תת-) is vocalized as tat miklá rather than the puristic tat makléa.

Inconsistent vocalization appears in the case of שימפנזה: whilst under chimp and cimpanzee, it is shimpanzé, as a headword it is the actually used shimpánza. Similarly, אנדרלמוסיה is vocalized andrelamúsya as a headword but andralamúsya under mayhem (note that many Israelis actually prefer אנדרולומוסיה androlomúsya).

ad-lib v. is glossed as לאלתר, mistakenly vocalized as lealtár, lit. ‘immediately, on the spot’, instead of lealtér ‘to improvise’.

8.  Glosses

Semantically, the glosses are accurate and trustworthy. so-and-so is defined as מנוול; פלוניbetter than in the more comprehensive OEHD. The glosses for mayhem (הטלת-מום, מהומה רבתי, אנדרלמוסיה), serendipity (נטייה לגלות באקראי דברים מפתיעים או פתרונות מוצלחים, מזל), pull-out (נסיגה, חלק נתלש (בעיתון וכו')) and laptop (מחשב נייד) are also better than the ones in OEHD (on the latter – see Zuckermann 1999). פלאפל is not glossed only as ‘felafel but also as ‘star (military rank)’. sweat blood is "לירוק דם", לעבוד קשה; quickie is not only (משהו) מהיר; קצר; חטוף but also (זיון) חפוז.

It is usefeul that the gloss for tilde includes ˜, and in the case of hash, # follows סולמית. In the entries for portmanteau word and spoonerism, there is a brief example elucidating the term. This is helpful and could be applied to palindrome and malapropism as well, although in the case of Murphy’s law, it might be too space-consuming to provide (in Israeli) an example like ‘people who snore tend to fall asleep first’.

informative is defined as מקנה ידע, מאלף, נותן מידע. Whereas מקנה ידע and  נותן מידעare accurate, I would have not used מאלף mealéf because, although originally meaning ‘instructive, imparting knowledge’, it has undergone a semantic change and currently most Israelis understand it as ‘amazing, fascinating, very interesting, great’. Accordingly, הוא נתן הרצאה מאלפת means ‘He gave a fascinating lecture’ rather than ‘He gave an informative lecture’.

Sometimes a co-sense is omitted. Cheers! is translated as לחיים! (said when making a toast) ignoring the British use תודה! (thanks!) (or תיסלם – cf. קבל ח"ח (חיזוק חיובי), used in some parts of the Israel Defense Forces). professional n. is said to be מקצוען, איש מקצוע ‘a person with a profession’ (such as a plumber), neglecting the additional specific sememe ‘a person engaged in one of the learned or skilled professions considered socially superior to trade or handicraft’, for instance medical doctor, lawyer, accountant, engineer and computer programmer. בעל מקצוע חופשי báal miktsóa khofshí will do. inflammable is defined as דליק, מתלקח (combustible), neglecting the possible American opposite sense. I would have added מעוף maóf to the gloss of vision and התאבכות hitabkhút to that of interference. at your peril is defined as על אחריותו ‘at his peril’, instead of על אחריותך.

9.  Headwords

OPD’s coverage is up-to-date and includes computer terms such as (the cursed) spam להציף ב-/לשלוח דואר זבל (באינטרנט) and junk mail דואר זבל, as well as internet, scroll v., Web site and WYSIWYGbut unfortunately not homepage, IT, spell-check, World Wide Web and WWW.

Although a pocket dictionary cannot be expected to include too many lexical items, OPD even includes words omitted by the more exhaustive – albeit less up-to-date – OEHD, for example geek, high-tech, HIV, mall, modem, salesperson and spin doctor. However, I believe that the omission by OPD of black tie, bursar, cherry tomato, cf., chicken-and-egg (situation), chive, euro, homophobia, karaoke, laid-back, paedophile, and take into account cannot be justified. Other lacunae include names of musical notes (e.g. do, sol, דו, סי), as well as words like afix, ammonia, babe, baby tooth (GB), beef tomato, bon appétit, cedilla, chuffed, confluence, delegitimize, ex libris, fin de siècle, gyro, hickey (US), humongous, ibid., id./idem, infarction, milk tooth (US), moni(c)ker, myocardial, naff, nouveau riche, oxymoron, park-and-ride, pro forma, RRP (recommended retail price), speleology, suffix, synergy and vice-chancellor. Although ארטיק, שלגון and אסקימו are mentioned, קרטיב is not. סחבק and שופרא דשופרא are not listed either. ISBN (International Standard Book Number) appears in OPD but not as a headword.

OPD provides many initialisms (e.g. AFAIK, asap, BTW, IUD but not ER; מ"ק is considered only as מטר מעוקב and not as the distinct מכשיר קשר), clippings (e.g. deli, perm, rep but not admin, roo) and contracted written forms (e.g. Ltd but not dept, Revd), let alone acronyms (e.g. PIN, חי"ר, סמג"ד, צה"ל but not JAP) and blends (e.g. sitcom and the portmanteau words brunch, ערפיח).

10.  Concluding remarks

As a pocket dictionary, OPD is generally a reliable, user-friendly dictionary. The main elements which make it user-friendly are its currency; up-to-date coverage; simple, perspicacious glosses; and listing as headwords irregular past and past participle forms of verbs, plurals of nouns and comparative/superlative forms of adjectives.


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Doniach, Nakdimon Shabbethay and Ahuvia Kahane (eds) 1998. The Oxford English-Hebrew Dictionary. Oxford – New York: Oxford University Press. (OEHD)

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Dr Ghil‘ad Zuckermann

Churchill College

University of Cambridge



[1] The fact that common Israeli orthography does not include vocalization, leaving the reader with several possible pronunciations, sometimes results in established ‘mispronunciations’ such as (1) mitabním instead of metaavním – for  מתאבנים ‘appetizers’, from תאבון teavón ‘appetite’. Note the distinct מתאבנים mitabním ‘becoming fossilized (m, pl)’; (2) maalé edomím instead of maalé adumím – for the Biblical Hebrew toponym מעלה אדמים in Joshua 15:7, 18:17 (see Ziv 1996: 77 and Kol Makóm veAtár: 313); (3) the hypercorrect yotvetá instead of yotváta – for the Biblical Hebrew toponym יטבתה, mentioned in Deuteronomy 10:7 (see Kol Makóm VeAtár: 231); (4) fára fost instead of fára fóset – for the anthroponym פארה פוסט Farrah Fawcett (an American actress).