Tetragrammaton (teh-truh-GRAM-uh-tahn) listen


  • n. The four Hebrew letters, yud, hay, vav, and hay, that express the name of God which cannot be uttered by Jews.

Example Sentences

  • "The Tetragrammaton (YHWH) is the proper name of the god of Israel. Exodus 3:14 appears to be a folk etymology for the name, tying it to the verb 'to be'. However, an earlier Egyptian inscription suggests the name may derive from a region in the Levant." (source)

Languages of Origin

  • English


  • from Ancient Greek τετραγράμματον tetragrámmaton 'lit. four-letter word'

    • Who Uses This

      • Jews: Jews of diverse religious backgrounds and organizational involvements
      • Non-Jews: (words that have spread outside of Jewish networks)


      • North America


      • The JPS Dictionary of Jewish Words, by Joyce Eisenberg and Ellen Scolnic, (Philadelphia, 2001).


  • "These letters, usually transliterated as YHVH, were originally pronounced “Yahweh.” Today, because Jews believe that God’s name is sacred, it is not spoken; instead the letters are usually read as Adonai or ha-Shem. Another common name in the Torah for God is Elohim. There are many other names of God, reflecting God’s various roles. For example, in Exodus 3:14, God tells Moses that God’s name is Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh (I Am That I Am)." (JPS)

    See also Jehovah.

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