Naming Your Keens in Hebrew: Family Relation Terms

Just in case someone gets into a family debate about family relatives and relations… Here’s a guide for the appropriate term in Hebrew.

Nephew (אחיין > Akhyan) and Niece (אחיינית > Akhyanit)

The children of the brother or sister. Similar to English, the children of the in-laws are also referred to as nephew or niece.

Nephew = אחיין = Akhyan Niece = אחיינית = Akhyanit

Single Mother (אם חד-הורית > Em KHad Horit)


Although not grammatically correct, this is the common term used for a woman raising her children on her own. The opposite term (single father) is not typically used. The correct phrasing would be Single-Parent Family (Mishpaha Khad Horit).

Cousins (בן־דוד > Ben Dod) and (בת־דודה > Bat Doda)

Hebrew distinguished the male and female here. Furthermore, the male expression is Ben Dod regardless if the direct relation is to the aunt (Doda), and Bat Doda is the female form regardless if the direct relation is to the uncle (Dod)

Second cousins are named בן־דוד מדרגה שנייה > Ben Dod Midarga Shnia.

The direct translation to Hebrew of Cousins is Dodan (דודן) and Dodanit (דודנית). This term covers all indirect keen sharing the same grand-parents (such as second cousins). These words are very rarely used (typically in literature translated to Hebrew).

Brother/Sister in Law (גיס > Gis) and (גיסה > Gisa)

Relate to both the first (Brother’s wife or sister’s husband) and to the second relation (the spouses brothers and sisters).

Parents in-Law (In-laws) are referred to as Ham חם (father in-law) and Hamot חמות (mother in-law).

Another set of expressions used is Hoten חותן (father in-law) and Hotenet חותנת (mother in-law).

Great Grandfather and Great Grandmother

Similar to the addition of “Great” to grandfather or grandmother, Hebrew adds “Raba” to “Saba” (grandfather) or “Savta” (grandmother), so we get Saba-Raba and Savta-Raba.


2 Responses to Naming Your Keens in Hebrew: Family Relation Terms

  1. Thanks for this really helpful article. Learning the correct Hebrew words (which are used in practice, and which are used in translation but not much in conversation) is extremely important. This is why it is so important to learn Hebrew from Israelis, not just from a book or cassette. Speaking Hebrew with Israeli teachers is the only way to really understand how Hebrew words are used in different contexts.

  2. Zmira Cohen says:

    I have never heard of the word’keen’except as a synonym for ‘eager. ‘ Do you not mean ‘kin,’ which means ‘family? ‘

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