Word of the Day Hatif חֲטִיף

If you're grubbing on the go, it's good to know this word for a snack. Just be careful of the noun form, which can mean something altogether different.

Shoshana Kordova
Shoshana Kordova
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Shoshana Kordova
Shoshana Kordova

You’re running late, so you grab, “lahtof,” a bag of potato chips or a classic Israeli kid’s food like Bisli or Bamaba to eat on the go. In Hebrew terminology, the object being grabbed is a "hatif" (kha-TEEF, hatifim in the plural) – or in English, a "snack." The word shares the same root as the Hebrew for “grab” and, according to the Even-Shoshan dictionary, developed from the now-outdated term “bahatifa” or “bahatifin,” meaning “hastily.” Which makes sense, since most people don’t linger over a quick snack the way they might over a gourmet meal.

Just because you munch on the occasional falafel-flavored Bisli, though, don’t be too quick to refer to yourself as a “hotef,” since that means not just “grabber” but also “kidnapper.” Abductees are “hatufim,” as in the name of the Israeli television drama about prisoners of war who were held for years in Lebanon, a series that served as the basis for the hit U.S. show “Homeland.”

If anyone does suspect you of being a "hotef," you should brace yourself for the possibility that you will "lahtof maka" from some well-meaning vigilante, which literally means something like “grab a blow” but actually means “get hit,” since “lahtof” can also mean to get or receive in colloquial Hebrew.

Then again, maybe you’ll catch a virus (“lahtof virus,” pronounced VEE-roos) and be too sick to ingest anything other than toast and tea, much less grab a handful of "hatifim."

On the go? Grab a snack.Credit: Dudu Bachar

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