Heating Up – in Hebrew

In the video I present the two Hebrew words for heat wave – חַמְסִין and שָׁרָב .

A cognate of the Hebrew חֲמִשִּׁים , the word חמסין means fifty in Arabic spoken dialect, خمسين in Arabic characters. In the Egyptian dialect, it also refers to the devastating heat wave that often hits North Africa during the fifty-day period between the Coptic festivals of Easter and Pentecost. Traveling north to Israel are not only the winds but the word חמסין itself, where Israelis use it to refer to a heat wave. שרב is the authentic Hebrew word, appearing in the biblical Book of Isaiah.


Heating Up

In the video I mention that there was an עֲלִיָּה פִּתְאוֹמִית בַּטֶּמְפֶּרָטוּרוֹת a sudden rise in temperatures. I refer to the sharp change that occurred this past week in Israel. I don’t mean to imply that a חמסין or שרב necessarily happens that way. It can also come with עלייה הַדְרָגָתִית בטמפרטורות a gradual rise in temperatures.

תחזית מזג אווירAnother way of referring to עלייה בטמפרטורות is הִתְחַמְּמוּת – literally, heating up. התחממות plugs the root ח.ו.מ into a variation of הִתְפַּעֵל , the verb form that best expresses a process. Thus התחממות is the process of getting hot.


“It’s so bloody hot!”

The native Hebrew (and Arabic) speakers in the video make their own interjections for how hot it was the other day in Israel. They use common expressions like חָם בַּטֵּרוּף – (it’s) hot like crazy, רוֹתֵחַ it’s boiling or it’s sizzling, and חָם לָאַלְלָה it’s hot to G-d. חֹם אֵימִים heat of horror, is a common expression as well. חום גֵּיהִנֹּם translates the English “hot as hell” (literally, heat of hell). And then there’s the young woman calling the weather סָבִיר reasonable. She must have spent the day indoors.

Other phrases expressing heat not featured in the video include חם מִדַּי too hot, חם רֶצַח hot as murder (literally, heat of murder), and !אֵיזֶה חוֹם what heat! You’re likely to hear women saying emphatically אֲנִי חַיֶּבֶת מַזְגָן I must have air conditioning. Men would say אני חַיָּב מזגן .


חוף יםStaying cool

As for the English expression “stay cool,” Hebrew doesn’t have an equivalent. Rather, you’re likely to hear Israelis giving each other pieces of advice such as שְׁתֵה הַרְבֶּה מַיִם drink lots of water (when speaking to a male) and תִּשָּׁאֲרִי בַּמַּזְגָן stay in the air conditioning (when speaking to a female).

קַיִץ נָעִים!

Have a great (pleasant) summer!

After having studied literature and linguistics on the bachelors level and psychology on the masters, Ami decided to draw upon his hobby of learning languages, his understanding of human thought processes and his skill of explaining complex ideas in simple terms, to found a program that enables people to speak Hebrew with confidence.


  • Loving it

    Helen Reply
  • The Heat’s o.k. but I don’t look forward to the humidity, but DO look forward to my Daily Dose of Hebrew. Thank you.

    Rosita Reply

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