You are viewing a read-only archive of the Blogs.Harvard network. Learn more.

I hope nomen est omen not

In the holiday spirit, I thought I’d share something that has left me feeling rather puzzled and with a bit of an odd sense of discomfort. Some months ago I searched the web to find information about the origin of my surname. I always found it funny that it’s a Dutch word that means “trouble,” and that taken together with the Dutch “macher,” it means “troublemaker.” But in my websearch, I came across a Stanford site, Hebrew Words in Dutch (via Yiddish), that gave “heibel” a new spin. If the research on this site is correct, my name apparently does indeed mean “trouble, commotion,” but it derives from the Hebrew word “hewel,” which means … “a vain cause.” A vain cause? What am I supposed to do, shoot myself? Are there people out there called Meschugge or Toges (tachat) or Treife (terefa)? There’s a shoemaker called Seibel, which according to this site comes from “sebel” which means …dung. How do you cope with such a moniker? What do people with weird names do to compensate? Should I have taken my husband’s last name? Nah, that would have made my initials YB, which begs the question, “why not?” Talk about vain cause. I’m stuck. Prior to the internet, I wouldn’t have discovered this unflattering tidbit, but that’s where information overload gets you: looking over your shoulder, wondering about vain causes.


  1. +++

    Hey Heilbelmacher:

    Is it Cosmic coincidence that your name is so suited to your nature,
    or just a complete fluke?
    Design or chaos?

    Peace, sister

    Goyo de la Rosa

    PS See you soon…and welcome back to the “nucular” port of Victoria.


    Comment by Goyo — April 25, 2003 #

  2. […] All the way back in April 2003, I blogged an entry called  I hope nomen est omen not, which described how I learned that my surname is a Yiddish Dutch word derived from the Hebrew word hewel, “a vain cause,” translating colloquially into “trouble.” The word is listed on this site,  Hebrew Words in Dutch (via Yiddish).  Reading the webmaster’s disclaimer, “Most of the words from the following lists are slang terms, not meant for polite conversation,” didn’t exactly make me feel higher up on any heraldric totem pole, thank-you very much: mud-wrestling seemed more apt. […]

    Comment by Yule Heibel’s Post Studio © 2003-2006 » …Something about not blogging anymore? — July 20, 2006 #

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Recent Posts



Theme: Pool by Borja Fernandez.
Entries and comments feeds.