• n. The week-long period of mourning after the death of a relative, during which close relatives stay at home and greet visitors.

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
      • Great Britain
      • South Africa
      • Australia / New Zealand


      • 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).

      Alternative Spellings



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

    Mourners traditionally sit on low stools during this time, so someone in mourning is said to be 'sitting shiva'.

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