chacham

Alternative Spellings

khokhem, chocham, chochem, hacham, haham, chuchum, chochem

Definitions

  • wise, learned person; genius
  • rabbi (Sephardi)
  • wiseguy

Example Sentences

  • "Chacham (Sephardic equivalent of “Rabbi”) Yosef Chaim, known as the “Ben Ish Chai,” became the Rav of Baghdad at the age of twenty-five, in the year 5619 (1859), the year following the death of his father, Chacham Rav Eliyahu." (http://www.ou.org/about/judaism/rabbis/benishchai.htm)
  • "Every chacham deserves kavod." "That guy is quite a chacham, getting all those credit cards with no credit history" (Weiser)
  • "Chacham! Where did you learn how to weld?!"
  • "So you thought you could fix it then, did you, chochem?" (Glinert)

Languages of Origin

Textual Hebrew, Yiddish, Ladino

Etymology

Heb חכם khakhám, Yiddish חכם khókhem 'wise man; ironic: a fool', Ladino חכם hacham 'teacher, rabbinic leader'

Who Uses This

Orthodox: Jews who identify as Orthodox and observe halacha (Jewish law)
Ashkenazim: Jews with Ashkenazi heritage
Sephardim: Jews with Sephardi or Mizrahi heritage

Regions

North America

Dictionaries

The Joys of Hebrew, by Lewis Glinert (New York, 1992).
Frumspeak: The First Dictionary of Yeshivish, by Chaim Weiser (Northvale, 1995).
Dictionary of Jewish Usage: A Guide to the Use of Jewish Terms, by Sol Steinmetz (Lanham, MD, 2005).

Notes

plural chachomim (חכמים)

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