AskDefine | Define taw

Dictionary Definition



1 the 23rd letter of the Hebrew alphabet
2 a large marble used for shooting in the game of marbles [syn: shooter]

User Contributed Dictionary

see Taw



  • Homophones: tau (Greek letter)

Etymology 1

From tawen 'prepare for use', itself from tawian, akin to Latin bonus 'good'.


  1. tawed leather


  1. To turn animals’ hide) into leather, usually by soaking it in a certain solution.

Derived terms

Etymology 2

Origin unknown.


  1. A favorite marble in the game of marbles.
  2. ring-taw
  3. In the context of "square dancing": dance partner
    Walk around your corner, see-saw around your taw.
  4. A favorite person; beloved, partner, spouse.


  1. to shoot a marble

Etymology 3

A transliteration of the name of the letter in question (ת), which means mark or cross.
Also transliterated tav.


  1. The 22nd and last letter of the Hebrew, Syriac and Phoenician alphabets.


Extensive Definition

''For other uses, see Taw (disambiguation).
Taw or Tav is the twenty-second and last letter in many Semitic abjads, including Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew Tav and Arabic alphabet . Its original sound value is a voiceless alveolar plosive, IPA /t/,
The Phoenician letter gave rise to the Greek Tau (Τ), Latin T, and Cyrillic Te (Т).

Origins of Taw

Taw is believed to have come from a simple mark; a cross or asterisk-like marking, perhaps indicating a signature.

Hebrew Tav

Hebrew Pronunciation

The letter Tav in modern Hebrew usually represents a voiceless alveolar plosive /t/).

Variations on Written form/pronunciation

The letter Tav is one of the six letters which can receive a Dagesh Kal. The six are Bet, Gimmel, Daled, Kaph, Pe, and Tav (see Hebrew Alphabet for more about these letters). Three of them (Bet, Kaph, and Pe) have their sound values changed in modern Hebrew from the fricative to the plosive by adding a dagesh. The other three have the same pronunciation in modern Hebrew, but have had alternate pronunciations at other times and places. In traditional Ashkenazi pronunciation, it represented a /s/ (a form which still is common today, especially among Diaspora Jews) without the dagesh, and had the plosive form when it had the dagesh. In some Sephardi areas, such as Yemen, Tav without a dagesh represented a voiceless dental fricative /θ/ without a dagesh and the plosive form with the dagesh. See Bet, Daled, Kaph, Pe, and Gimmel.

Significance of Tav

In gematria Tav represents the number 400, the largest single number that can be represented without using the Sophit forms (see Kaph, Mem, Nun, Pe, and Tzade).
In representing names from foreign languages, a geresh or "chupchik" can also be placed after the tav ('ת), making it represent /θ/ /ð/.

In Judaism

Tav is the last letter of the Hebrew word emet, which means truth. The midrash explains that emet is made up of the first, middle, and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet (Aleph, Mem, and Tav: אמת). Sheqer (falsehood), on the other hand, is made up of the 19th, 20th, and 21st (and penultimate) letters.
Thus, truth is all-encompassing, while falsehood is narrow and deceiving. In Jewish mythology it was the word emet that was carved into the head of the golem which ultimately gave it life. But when the letter "aleph" was erased from the golem's forehead, what was left was "met" - death. And so the golem died.

Sayings with Taw

From Aleph to Taw describes something from beginning to end; the Hebrew equivalent of the English From A to Z.

Syriac Taw

Like Hebrew and Phoenician, it is the last letter in the alphabet. It represents either a hard t (voiceless alveolar plosive) or a soft θ (voiceless dental fricative).

Arabic tā

The letter is named tā, and is written is several ways depending in its position in the word: The form tā marbuta (ة ,ـة) is used at the end of words to mark feminine gender for nouns and adjectives (which in Arabic are considered to be two types of the same general class of words). Initial tā is used to mark feminine gender in third-person imperfective/present tense verbs. Final ت‎◌ (kasra, then tā, pronounced /at/) is used to mark feminine gender for third-person perfective/past tense verbs, while final تَ (tā-fata, /ta/) is used to mark past-tense second-person singular masculine verbs, final تِ (tā-kasra, /ti/) to mark past-tense second-person singular feminine verbs, and final تُ (tā-amma, /tu/) to mark past-tense first-person singular verbs.

See also

taw in Amharic: ታው
taw in Official Aramaic (700-300 BCE): ܬܘ
taw in Breton: Taw (lizherenn)
taw in Hebrew: ת
taw in Polish: Taw
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