The meaning of names among Mediterranean Jews

Marc Eliany ©

AMIR Amiram Amirov A'mir A'miram
among other possible variations depending on the country and language of the person.

The root of the name may be Amir in Arabic, refering to a person of high status. The name Amir is rare among North African Jews but common among Iraqi Jews. It has become widespread in Israel because of it is a meaningful Hebrew word.

The roots 'Amir' is Hebrew for upper branches. If spelled with a'yin, a'mir means sheaf (of corn for example). It is conceivable that A'mir is a derivative of A'miram which is Hebrew for precious people (A'mi = my people, ram = precious, respected).

Prefixes attached to the root name such as (aben, iben, abi, avi, ben, bin, abou, a, aj, al, bel, i, la, lel, me, m, o, wi, vi, ) denotes usually a relation to a person, i.e., the father of or the son of X, a place, i.e., a person from X, an occupation, i.e., a person who practices a specific occupation, a characteristic of a person, i.e., beautiful... The prefixes al, el are equivalent to 'the' in English or the article 'le' in French. In the Moroccan Berbers tradition, prefixes such as 'wi' 'vi' 'i' means usually a family relationship to X, the equivalent of Abu in Arabic, i.e., 'the father of', 'son of' a man, a tribal affiliation and so forth.In the Hebrew tradition, the prefix ‘M ‘ is an abbreviation of the word 'from.'

Suffixes such as 'i' or 'ri' refer to an association with a person, for example: Mori = my teacher.
Suffixes such as 'illo' 'ano' 'ino'
'nino' are used in Spain and Italy to indicate descendence or association with an attribute.

AMIR Elie (1937-). Originaire d’Irak (Baghdad), installé en Israël. Haut-fonctionnaire dans la division de l’immigration des jeunes à l’Agence Juive et écrivain, il est l’auteur des romans Adieu Baghdad et Le bouc émissaire qui décrivent la vie à Baghdad et les problèmes d’intégration des Juifs irakiens au sein de la société israélienne.


Azoulay, Hayim Yossef Shem Hagdolim (the names of the great)

AZOULAY Haïm Yossef David (Hida) (1724-1807) Chém haguédolim va’ad lahakhamim (The names of the Great Council of Sages).

Levi, J et. al. 2000        Dictionnaire biographique du monde Juif Sepharade et Mediteranean, Editions Elysee, Montreal.

Toledano, J. 1983        La saga des familles, Les juifs du Maroc et leurs noms, Editions Stavit, Tel Aviv

Laredo A. 1978           Les noms des juifs au Maroc (Madrid, 1978)