Isn't the analogy to ebrei Hebrews and not Jews, and is there an Italian analogy to the term Jews?

Does anybody know, how the change to the term ebrei came to be implemented?

  • 3
    Could you please add some more detail? What specific nuance of the difference between Hebrew and Jew in English are you trying to capture? Do you have an example sentence? For instance, Italians normally use israeliano to refer to the state and citizenship, and ebreo to refer to the religion (while the language is called ebraico); is this what you are looking for? Commented Apr 2, 2017 at 7:26
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    @FedericoPoloni: What does israeliano even have to do with this topic? Most Jews in the world are not Israelis and many Israelis are not Jews.
    – DaG
    Commented Apr 2, 2017 at 12:32
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    @AaronSalz: This is already implied in the answers, but please note that, while in English “Hebrew” used as noun to mean a Jew is dated or offensive, in Italian it is quite exactly the other way around with ebreo and giudeo.
    – DaG
    Commented Apr 2, 2017 at 12:36
  • “change”? Which change? The term has always been ebreo, in Italian from Latin, in Latin from Ancient Greek, in Ancient Greek from, well, Hebrew: to quote the Treccani dictionary, ebreo derives from Latin hebraeus, which derives from late Ancient Greek ἑβραῖος, an adaptation of the Aramaic word corresponding to Hebrew ῾ibrī (plural ῾ibrīm), from the name of the alleged progenitor ῾Ēber, as already explained in egreg's answer.
    – DaG
    Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 16:34
  • Yes, but how come in Italy it is commonplace to use the term Hebrews, while in English and other languages the term Jews is the norm. When and how was this change implemented?
    – Aaron Salz
    Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 16:38

2 Answers 2


The term Jew has the correspondent Giudeo (from Giuda, that is, Judah).

It's not used very often, nowadays. It was in the past: Giudecca was a common name of Hebrew neighborhoods in cities of Southern Italy and Sicily (see https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giudecca_(quartiere_ebraico)). It's debated whether the Giudecca islands in Venice have the same origin.

The generic term ebreo comes, according to the Treccani,

dal latino hebraeus, greco tardo ἑβραῖος, adattamento della voce aramaica corrispondente all’ebraico ῾ibrī (plurale ῾ibrīm), dal nome del supposto capostipite ῾Ēber

from Latin hebraeus, late Greek ἑβραῖος, adaptation of the Aramaic term corresponding to Hebrew ῾ibrī (plurale ῾ibrīm), from the name of the alleged founder ῾Ēber

Of course the origin is the same as the English Hebrew.


Yes, there is also giudèo, which is cognate with the English word "Jew". However, this word is less commonly used; it can indicate specifically members of the tribe of Judah, and may have anti-semitic connotations in some contexts.

Source: http://www.treccani.it/vocabolario/giudeo/

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