Hebrew word of the week: Procrastination


In English, to procrastinate is related to the Latin cras, “tomorrow.” Hence, the psychological syndrome that enables one to put off something until “tomorrow” rather than do it today is informally known by Spanish mañana, “tomorrow, in the indefinite future.”

The Hebrew daHyanut is from daHyan “procrastinator” (like ‘atslan “lazy”). The root is d-H-y, “to postpone, put off, reject; push down or hard,”*nidHah “be postponed, etc.” It is closely related to d-H-f “push”; d-H-q “pressure, urge”; d-H-H (niddaH) “push far away, be exiled.”**

*As in Psalms 118:13: “You (the enemy) pushed me hard (daHoh deHitani) to fall down, but God helped me.”

**As NiddeHe yisra’el yekhannes “He will gather in the exiles of Israel” (Psalms 147:2).

Yona Sabar is a professor of Hebrew and Aramaic in the department of Near Eastern Languages & Cultures at UCLA.