Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Duyvken asked me (in my commentbox) about:

"that Hebrew word for when something that would be so wonderful happens unexpectedly at a moment when you are not where you normally would be to enjoy it? I'm thinking of when I was at my sister-in-law's and Mr Duyvken came home early from work."

Duyvken was thinking of the word DAVKA.

I know! From all the Hebrew words Duyvken could have asked about, davka she asked about one which sounds almost exactly like her own blogname!

So...that's one way to use the word "davka." In that sentence it gives a meaning of "precisely...in a surprising way," it's hard to translate, as you can see.

But when D and I originally discussed the word "davka," I was thinking of a slightly different use of the word. This use is still slightly humorous and refers to a surprising occurrence, but it also has the added hint of IRRITABILITY associated with it. For example:

"For the last three evenings Duyvken hoped that Mr. D might come home early. By the fourth evening she decided that he was clearly too busy this week and therefore went over to her sister-in-law's for some company. DAVKA on that night, Mr. D came home early to surprise her."

Get it?

Now...before you get too smug about understanding that, I should point out that "davka" has an additional use which takes that same definition but multiplies the irritability and annoyance factor, while minimising the humour (it's all in the context and the intonation used). Let me give you an example:

"Eleanor is sitting at the dining table eating a big piece of chocolate cake. Mr. Commentbox walks into the room and asks 'Did you go for your jog this morning?' Eleanor responds 'Davka NOW you have to ask me this question?'


Blue Mountains Mary said...

The BEST word.

I will lie awake tonight thinking of ways to use it!

trashalou said...

If 'davka' hints at irritability can you offer one that gives the fullblown version I experienced on Saturday night?

RW said...

I love hearing about words.

The Coffee Lady said...

How civilised of you to sit down to eat your cake. You are a lady and no mistake.

Anonymous said...

I am currently reading "Born to Kvetch", a book about Yiddish. I must look up what it says about davka.

Duyvken said...

So wonderful, thank you for your explanation dear Eleanor. I do love that word.

BabelBabe said...

I love this word and must work it into my vocabulary.

I also have to show my husband this post - ever the linguist, he will enjoy it greatly, I think.