דבר vs. עצם

  • amikama

    a mi modo
    עברית
    It's more or less the same difference between "thing" and "object" in English, isn't it?
    דבר = thing
    עצם = object
    They overlap in meaning, but they are not identical and not interchangeable.
     

    sawyeric1

    Senior Member
    English - American
    They are not interchangeable in English, but in Hebrew you say שם-עצם "noun", which I would think would make them interchangeable because not all nouns are objects, but all nouns are things.
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    שם עצם is a medieval translation of Latin nomen substantivum and/or Arabic اسم الذات. Even the word noun, comes from Old French noun substantif (nom substantif in Modern French), descended from the same Latin term. Our conceptions of grammatical categories may have changed over the centuries, but we still use the old terminology.
     

    Ali Smith

    Senior Member
    Urdu - Pakistan
    Someone told me that דבר has the following meanings:

    1. word
    2. thing
    3. subject
    4. matter (French: affaire)

    However, he added that the translation "word" is not very accurate, because דבר never means "word" in the sense of the French mot or Arabic كَلِمَة. Thus, you cannot use דבר to refer to the individual words of a sentence. So, if you wanted to say "This sentence contains five words." you would not use דבר. He explained that דבר means "word" in a different sense. He said it meant something like "speech". Is he correct?
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    No, it can literally refer to a word in a sentence. It's just not commonly used that way in a literal sense in Modern Hebrew, except maybe in some expressions. But in Biblical Hebrew it does sometimes have that meaning.
     
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