am haaretz

Alternative Spellings

am horets, am ha-aretz, amoretz, amorets, am ha'aretz, am haarets

Definitions

  • Bumpkin, ignoramus, uneducated person
  • Vulgar, boorish person
  • People of the land

Example Sentences

  • "Am Ha’aretz was created to bring environmental awareness to the Jewish and broader communities on campus, through a series of events and initiatives." (http://www.marylandhillel.org/studentlife/student-groups/socialjustice/)
  • "Stop being an am haaretz."
  • "It is a shame that you are such a biggot and am haaretz yourself. This has nothing to do with halacha, it has to do with common sense, if you saw a person hit by a car in the street on Shabbos, would you not call for hatzolah and offer aid to the person to prevent their death Shabbos or Yom Tov?" (http://www.vosizneias.com/61395/2010/08/03/israel-rabbis-when-there-is-danger-to-life-everyone-must-call-police-even-on-shabbat)

Languages of Origin

Textual Hebrew, Yiddish

Etymology

From Heb עם הארץ am haárets, through Yiddish עם־האָרץ amórets (plural עמי־הארצים amerátsim)

Who Uses This

Orthodox: Jews who identify as Orthodox and observe halacha (Jewish law)

Regions

North America

Dictionaries

The New Joys of Yiddish, by Leo Rosten and Lawrence Bush (New York, 2003[1968]).
Yiddish and English: A Century of Yiddish in America, by Sol Steinmetz (Tuscaloosa, 1986).
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).

Notes

The term is Talmudic in origin. It is literally "people of the land" and originally could mean "the People of Israel." However, its usual meaning in the Talmud and thereafter comes from the notion of "people who work the land," i.e., "peasant." From there it became "ignoramus, uneducated, boorish". In recent years it has been reappropriated by some eco-Jews to emphasize Jews' connection to the land.

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