HAPAX LEGOMENA (Gr. "once said"), words which are only once recorded in a certain kind of literature. Since the interest in Middle Hebrew lexicography arose comparatively late, Middle Hebrew texts are frequently not well-established philologically and new texts are often discovered, the interest in hapax legomena in Hebrew is, for all practical purposes, limited to the Bible or, more precisely, to biblical Hebrew. There are in biblical Hebrew about 1,300 hapax legomena (yet their precise number cannot be stated, since the exact definition is not clear as to whether or not they include homonymic hapax legomena). Most of them (about 900) are not too difficult to interpret, being derived from well-known biblical roots (as ʿemdah, Micah 1:11, moʿomad, Ps. 69:3, both denoting "standing ground," being derived from the well-known root עמד, "to stand"). About 400, however, cannot be derived from known biblical roots and are therefore more difficult to interpret. Occurring only once, their exact meaning is more difficult to establish from context than that of words attested more often. Except for this fact and the possibility that hapax legomena may have arisen through error in transmission, the philological treatment of hapax legomena does not differ from that of words occurring more often. The meaning of both is elucidated by comparison with other Semitic languages, which often makes it possible to establish the etymology of the word treated. Middle Hebrew has, of course, a special standing in this matter. Since the Bible, because of its small size and limited topics, has preserved only a small part of Hebrew vocabulary, it is often due to mere chance that a word occurs only once in the Bible, though there may be ample examples of it in Middle Hebrew (as in the case with sullam "ladder," Gen. 28:12). Even the sages of the Mishnah did not understand the hapax legomenon we-teʾteʾtiha, "and I will sweep it" (Isa. 14:23), except with the help of vernacular speech, as used by Rabbi's handmaid (RH 26b). Hapax legomena sometimes belong to removed subject matters (as Isa. 3:18ff., describing the ornaments of Zion's daughters), and there are relatively many hapax legomena denoting animals, plants, and diseases (as letaʾah "lizard," Lev. 11:30; luz, "almond tree," Gen. 30:37; ḥarḥur, "fever," Deut. 28:22) and loan words (as ʾappiryon, "litter," Song 3:9). The Book of Job, with its special style and many Aramaisms, contains a relatively large proportion of hapax legomena, 145 in number, among them 60 without derivation from known biblical roots. The (much larger) Book of Isaiah has 201 hapax legomena, among them, again, 60 without derivation. In Hebrew literature hapax legomena are called ʾen lo ʾah, ʾen lo ḥaver, ʾen lo reʿa ba-Miqraʾ, "it has nothing alike, no brother, no fellow, no comrade in the Bible," or millim bodedot, "isolated words." saadiah gaon wrote in Arabic Kitābal-Sabʿīn Lafza min Mufradāt al-Qurʾan ("The Book of Seventy Hapax Legomena in the Bible"), dealing with over 90 (\!) hapax legomena, which he explains by means of mishnaic words. It stands to reason that this book originally contained 70 words, and was expanded later, either by Saadiah himself or by others, yet preserving its original name. Although it is one of the oldest and most important philological works in the history of Hebrew linguistics, it is in its intention a polemic work against Karaites, endeavoring to prove the value of tradition from the linguistic point of view: without mishnaic Hebrew even the linguistic interpretation of the Bible is impossible. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: I.M. Casanowicz, in: JE, 6 (1904), S.V.; B. Klar, in: Mehkarim ve-Iyyunim (1954), 159–75; N. Allony, in: Goldziher Memorial Volume, 2 (1958), 1–48 (Heb. section); idem, in: HUCA, 30 (1959), 1–14 (Heb. section); Ch. Rabin, in: EM, 4 (1962), 1066–70. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: H.R. Cohen, Biblical Hapax Legomena in the Light of Akkadian and Ugaritic (1978); P. Daniels, in: JAOS, 101 (1981), 440–41; J. Huehnergard, in: BASOR, 264 (1986), 286–90; F. Greenspahn, Hapax Legomena in Biblical Hebrew (1984); idem, in: ABD, 3:54–5; E. Greenstein, in: JAOS, 107 (1987), 538–39. (Joshua Blau)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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  • Hapax legomena — Mit Hapax legomenon (Plural: Hapax legomena, von griech. ἅπαξ hápax einmal, einmalig ; λεγόμενον legómenon das Gesagte , eigentlich Präsens, also „das gesagt werdende“) wird ein Wort bezeichnet, das nur an einer einzigen Stelle in einem gegebenen …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Hapax legomena — Hapax Un hapax (le h est muet) ou apax désigne généralement un mot qui n a qu une seule occurrence dans la littérature. Le terme hapax est un néologisme dû à John Trapp en 1654 (Annotations upon the Old and New Testament), créé à partir du grec… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • hapax legomenon — [hā′paks΄ li gäm′ə nän΄] n. pl. hapax legomena [hā′paks΄ li gäm′ənä΄, hā′paks΄ li gäm′ənə] [Gr, (something) said only once] a word or phrase occurring only once in a text or other written record …   English World dictionary

  • Hapax legomenon — Rank frequency plot for words in the novel Moby Dick. About 44% of the distinct set of words in this novel, such as matrimonial , occur only once, and so are hapax legomena (red). About 17%, such as dexterity , are dis legomena (blue). Zipf s law …   Wikipedia

  • Hapax legomenon — Mit Hapax legomenon (Plural: Hapax legomena, von altgr. ἅπαξ hápax „einmal, einmalig“; λεγόμενον legómenon „das Gesagte“, eigentlich Präsens, also „das gesagt werdende“) wird ein Wort bezeichnet, das nur an einer einzigen Stelle in einem… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Hapax — Mit Hapax legomenon (Plural: Hapax legomena, von griech. ἅπαξ hápax einmal, einmalig ; λεγόμενον legómenon das Gesagte , eigentlich Präsens, also „das gesagt werdende“) wird ein Wort bezeichnet, das nur an einer einzigen Stelle in einem gegebenen …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • hapax legomenon — noun /ˌhæpæks lɛˈɡɒmɛnɒn/ A word occurring only once in a given corpus. There is a lovely technical term for a word that appears once in a body of text: a hapax legomenon (plural: hapax legomena), Greek for “once said.” The term comes from… …   Wiktionary

  • hapax legomenon — /hap aks li gom euh non , hay paks/, pl. hapax legomena /hap aks li gom euh neuh, hay paks/. a word or phrase that appears only once in a manuscript, document, or particular area of literature. [1880 85; < Gk hápax legómenon (thing) once said] *… …   Universalium

  • hapax legomenon — [ˌhapaks lɪ gɒmɪnɒn] noun (plural hapax legomena mɪnə) a term of which only one instance of use is recorded. Origin C17: Gk, a thing said once , from hapax once and the passive participle of legein to say …   English new terms dictionary

  • hapax legomenon — noun (plural hapax legomena) Etymology: Greek, something said only once Date: 1882 a word or form occurring only once in a document or corpus …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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