Word of the Day Ledarben

This prickly word provides a fitting visual image to illustrate what might otherwise be an abstract concept of prodding one another.

Shoshana Kordova
Shoshana Kordova
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Shoshana Kordova
Shoshana Kordova

Porcupines (dorbanim), I would venture to say, are best known the world over for all those quills that cover them. In Israel, they are also a Druze delicacy, and a corollary to the verb ledarben (le-dahr-BEN), meaning to goad, prod, spur or encourage.

A Maariv newspaper story refers to a soccer coach who tried to encourage his players, or spur them to victory – the use of dirben (deer-BEN), the singular third-person masculine past tense of ledarben, conflates the meanings – by telling them that even if their game wasn't going well in the beginning, they shouldn't stress out and should "be mentally strong."

I like this verb because it provides a fitting visual image to illustrate what might otherwise be an abstract concept. There are many ways to prod someone into doing something, but this word makes you realize that, on some level at least, even the most well-constructed verbal argument or the most subtle form of psychological pressure is really just a more sophisticated way of taking an object like a porcupine's quill and physically prompting someone to go in the direction you'd like.

Giddyap, team!

Goading can be as prickly as this hedgehog, the more photogenic cousin of the porcupine. Credit: Daniel Tchetchik

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