Word of the Day: Kaftorim / Cute as a Button in Your Ear

And why 'button surgery' can improve the kid's hearing.

Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail

You may have heard that you’re not supposed to put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear, but surgeons regularly insert something into children’s ears that one might have thought they’d be busier trying to remove: kaftorim – which most Israelis figure means "buttons".

And it does, in day-to-day Hebrew. But to Israeli doctors, kaftorim also refer to ear tubes - hollow plastic spools used to drain excess fluid from the ears, to prevent infection and improve hearing.

In British English the tubes are called “grommets,” which, in an earless context, are rings used to strengthen small holes in cloth or leather.

Here in Israel, the tubes are inserted into the ear during “button surgery,” or nitu’ah kaftorim.

Just keep in mind that while the surgery may improve your child’s hearing, any words of wisdom you attempt to convey will almost certainly continue to go in one ear (tube) and out the other. No matter how button-cute your kids are.

To contact Shoshana Kordova with column suggestions or other word-related comments, email her at shoshanakordova@gmail.com. For previous Word of the Day columns, go to: www.haaretz.com/news/features/word-of-the-day.

What most Israelis figure "kaftorim" mean.Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Bet the ear, nose & throat specialists wished kids looked like this.Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Click the alert icon to follow topics: