Word of the Day Vee

Like its shape suggests, the letter 'vav' offers a convenient hook for clothes and other items. As part of a 'vee,' it can also help you get a lot done.

Shoshana Kordova
Shoshana Kordova
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Shoshana Kordova
Shoshana Kordova

The letter that makes the first sound in the words "victory" and "vroom" – a "v" in English, of course, and a "vav" in Hebrew – have each come to represent an object in Hebrew that somewhat resembles the shape of its respective letter.

The print version of the Hebrew letter "vav" looks like a straight vertical line with a very short horizontal line extending from the top to the left, kind of like a capital "T" if the "T" had been in a terrible accident in which its right arm got cut off and its left foreshortened. In other words, a "vav" sort of resembles a coat hook, if you imagine the vertical line against the wall and the horizontal bit ready to keep your coat from falling down. And "vavim" (the plural of "vav") are in fact "hooks" in Hebrew, though non-coat items like towels and keys are welcome to use them too.

While a "vav" has two perpendicular straight lines, the diagonal lines of a "v" are what you would get if you were to make a check mark in which both sides were of equal length. For Israelis, "lesamen[to mark off a]vee" or "la'asot [to make a]vee" can refer to literally making a check mark or, as in English, to figuratively crossing something off a checklist. Consider this 2009 headline about Housing and Construction Minister Ariel Atias of the Sephardi ultra-Orthodox Shas party: "Atias can mark off his first vee: Hundreds of apartments for Haredim will be built in Beit Shemesh."

And in a chat room for folks who are getting married and feel the need to exchange exclamations with strangers, one bride announced (with the assistance of 10 or so exclamation points) that she had marked off her "final vee" by booking the event designers. "How fun it is to mark a vee!!!" exulted one commenter. "Mazal tov doll!!!" It remains unclear whether or not an actual checkmark was involved in this process, though the presence of a pretty sizeable check of a different sort is strongly suspected.

Flash a 'V' for 'victory'. Or, in Hebrew, use it to cross off tasks on your to-do list.Credit: AP



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