Alternative Spellings



  • week-long period of mourning after the death of a relative, during which close relatives stay at home and greet visitors. mourners traditionally sit on low stools during this time, so someone in mourning is said to be 'sitting shiva'.

Example Sentences

  • "The Feingolds can't come to our party, they're sitting shiva."

Languages of Origin

Textual Hebrew


Heb שבעה shivá, Yiddish שיבֿעה shíve; זיצן שיבֿעה zitsn shive 'to sit shiva, observe the seven days of mourning'

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 New Joys of Yiddish, by Leo Rosten and Lawrence Bush (New York, 2003[1968]).
The JPS Dictionary of Jewish Words, by Joyce Eisenberg and Ellen Scolnic, (Philadelphia, 2001).
The Joys of Hebrew, by Lewis Glinert (New York, 1992).
Dictionary of Jewish Usage: A Popular Guide to the Use of Jewish Terms, by Sol Steinmetz (Lanham, MD, 2005).


"sit shiva" and "shiva call" are common phrases

Edit     See something you disagree with? Feel free to edit it. All changes will be moderated.