• menorah •
mê-nor-ê • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. A seven-branched candelabrum symbolizing the seven days of creation. 2. A nine-branched candelabrum used in the celebration of Hanukkah, also called the Hanukiah.
Notes: Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, is an eight-day holy season celebrating the victory of the Maccabees over the Syrian (Seleucid) kings, who succeeded the short-lived empire of Alexander the Great. The Syrians forbad upholding Jewish law and prohibited Jewish services until defeated by Judas Maccabeus and his followers. When the second Temple of Jerusalem was rededicated about 165 BCE, there was only a one-day supply of oil for the Temple lamps. However, that one-day supply miraculously burned for eight full days.
In Play: Our Jewish friends are lighting one candle for each of the eight nights of Hanukkah in remembrance of this miracle. The ninth candle, called the Shamash and seated in the middle holder, is used to light the other eight. alphaDictionary wishes the worldwide Jewish community the happiest of Hanukkah seasons.
Word History: Today's Good Word comes from the Semitic root nwr "to shine "be(come) bright". Semitic languages like Hebrew and Arabic use vowels the way English uses prefixes and suffixes. Changing the vowels between the consonants changes the meaning of words the way prefixes and suffixes do in English. That doesn't mean Semitic languages do not use prefixes and suffixes; they use them, too. So with the prefix me- and the vowels O and A, we get today's Good Word: menorah "lamp, lampstand", related to ner "lamp". With the prefix ma- and the vowel A, we get Arabic manara "lamp, lighthouse", the origin of our minaret, akin to nur "light". (Everyone at alphaDictionary wishes all our Jewish friends the happiest of Hanukkah seasons, especially those in Israel, where we hope the Festival of the Lights will illuminate a brighter and more peaceful future.)