Word of the Day / Hofer

Whether you're digging for buried treasure or just digging into someone's nerves, the Hebrew word for 'excavator' can apply.

Now that summer's over, most archaeologists have packed up their picks and shovels after a busy dig season. But some of them may continue "digging" after they get home, especially if they have critical teenagers to contend with. The Hebrew word for "excavator," hofer, has come to mean not only a person who digs for antiquities, but someone who just plain won't get off your case. The word itself can be used to describe such a nudnik, as in the phrase hofer li bamoah, or "digging into my brain."

But like the best slang, the idea has taken on a life of its own. If someone harps on and on about something, you let them know you've had enough by saying "OK, OK, enough already; what are you, an archaeologist?"

Shoshana Kordova will resume enlightening and entertaining Word of the Day readers on October 9.