Word of the Day Po Kavur Hakelev

Where is the dog buried? Who knows? But in Hebrew, when you find it, you'll find that this is where the truth lies.

Ruth Schuster
Ruth Schuster
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Ruth Schuster
Ruth Schuster

Po kavur hakelev literally means "this is where the dog's body has been buried."

It's a common expression in Modern Hebrew used to state: That's the real reason, the underlying cause, the root of the matter. As in:

"Why did you fail math?" Mother inquires of Little Genius.

"Because the teacher's mean," LG sniffs. Why is teacher mean? Mother inquires.

"Because he took away my book so I couldn't study for the test," LG whines. Why did teacher take away the book? Mother inquires.

"Because Sam was so annoying that he made me throw the book at him," LG says virtuously.

"Aha," says Mother. "That’s where the dog lies."

This isn't one of those expressions of biblical origin like "be fruitful and multiply." It originates from German, Da liegt der Hund begraben – "this is where the buried dog lies."

One might wonder at the parallel between man's best friend and the whole truth and nothing but the truth. But it seems the whole thing originates from a mistake made some time in the evolution of the Germanic tongue. The German word for "dog" – hund – is very much like the old German word for treasure, "hunde."

In other words, originally the expression was, "Here is where the treasure was buried."

For what it's worth, back when Germans used the word hunde for treasure, dogs weren't considered particularly valuable. But in modern society the family pet is treasured indeed.

This dog isn't buried, thankfully.Credit: Bloomberg

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