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October 27, 2016 / 25 Tishri, 5777
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How to Say ‘Heartbreaker’ in Hebrew

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 שׁוֹבֵר לְבָבוֹת, שׁוֹבֶרֶת לְבָבוֹת There are heartbreakers, and there’s everybody else. Sometimes there’s crossover.

The Hebrew term for heartbreaker when referring to a male is שׁוֹבֵר לְבָבוֹת (listen and repeat). Referring to a female, it’s שׁוֹבֶרֶת לְבָבוֹת (listen and repeat).

שובר (listen and repeat) and שוברת (listen and repeat) come from the active-simple פָּעַל verb, לִשְׁבּוֹר (listen and repeat) – to break.

לבבות (listen and repeat) is the plural of the word for heart – לֵב (listen and repeat).

You may have noticed that לבבות has one ב (b) more than the word לב. That’s because the root of לב is actually ל.ב.ב (l.b.b), but the second ב usually falls off when not followed by another letter. The ב nevertheless appears in certain expressions such as רַךְ לֵבָב  (listen and repeat) – soft-hearted and בַּר לֵבָב (listen and repeat) – upright (literally, one of heart). And when לב has a possessive suffix, the ב is accentuated, “compensating” for the missing extra ב, in words such as לִבִּי (listen and repeat) – my heart, לִבּוֹ (listen and repeat) – his heart, etc.

Heartbreak is שִׁבְרוֹן לֵב (listen and repeat). And to break the (someone’s) heart is לִשְׁבּוֹר אֶת הַלֵּב (listen and repeat).

For example:

לְמִי שָׁבַרְתְּ אֶת הַלֵּב? Whose heart have you (a female) broken? repeat


לְמִי שָׁבַרְתָּ אֶת הַלֵּב? Whose heart did you (a male) break?


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Ami Steinberger

About the Author: Ami Steinberger is founder and director of Ulpan La-Inyan.

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