Word of the Day / Kol Hakavod

If someone does well, he earns your respect, so it make sense to give kudos with this phrase.

Shoshana Kordova
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Shoshana Kordova

Last spring, my then-4-year-old daughter was looking out the window of her bedroom after her evening bath and, ever the pint-sized dictator, informed the world that if she had to go to bed, so did everyone else within her field of vision.

"Everyone who's outside has to go home now so you can go to sleep!" she shouted out the window. Catching sight of someone at the bus stop across the street, she decided he was heeding her proclamation and announced: "The boy is waiting for the bus so he can go home. Kol hakavod, boy!"

Literally meaning "all the respect," kol hakavod is the Israeli equivalent of "good job!" and similar phrases like "well done" or "way to go." It's omnipresent in the world of little tykes and their minders, the easiest way to praise a child for putting "Goodnight Moon" back on the bookshelf (actual literacy skills not being necessary for this task) or putting on her own jacket.

The phrase kol hakavod letzahal, with Tzahal being the Hebrew acronym for the Israel Defense Forces, tends to make the rounds (often in the form of a sign or banner) as a show of support for the troops and an expression of patriotism, especially when there's some form of combat going on.

Then there's the somewhat loaded phrase im kol hakavod, which means "with all due respect" and, as in English, is generally taken as a license to speak without the respect that may or may not be due.

If you wanted to put down the arguable overuse of the Hebrew equivalent of "good job!" as a form of praise, you might ask, as did the headline of an article on how best to encourage children: "What exactly is 'encouragement, ' im kol hakavod to 'kol hakavod'?"

To contact Shoshana Kordova with column suggestions or other word-related comments, email her at . For previous Word of the Day columns, go to: .

If you earn a trophy or a prize, you're probably also going to earn a 'kol hakavod!'Credit: AFP