The meaning of names among Mediterranean Jews

Marc Eliany ©

among other possible variations depending on the country and language of the person.

The root of the name may be 'kavei' from the Hebrew word 'hope.'
' Nakoua' may mean cleanliness in Arabic (North African Arabic dialect). 'Kaoua' may also mean 'power' or 'authority' in Arabic (North African Arabic dialect). It may be a Judeo-Moroccan transformation of the Hebrew word 'koah' (power).

The root 'Kavei' is preceded by the prefix 'el,' a common Hebrew prefix refering to god or 'elohim' in Hebrew. The prefixes 'al' or 'an' are articles equivalent to 'the' in English or 'le' in French.

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 'eri' refer to an affiliation with a person or a place, for example: a descendent of 'Mos' or a 'masri' a person from Egypt.
Suffixes such as
'ano' 'no' 'lino' 'nino' are used in Spain and Italy to indicate descendence.

ALNAKAOUA Israël ben Yossef (?-1391). Spain. Poèt. Singer/prayer leader. Author of Ménorat hama’or (The source of light). Attacked in a pogrom in Toledo. Committed suicide (1391). ELNÉCAVÉ David (1882-1956). Turkey. Rabbi. Journalist. Editor in Bulgaria and Argentina. Founder of La Luz (the light). Member of the 12th Zionist congress in Karlsbad. Went to Latin America to enlist support for zionism and to encourage immigration to Palestine.
ELNÉCAVÉ Nissim (XXes.).Argentina. son of David (above). Editor of La Luz.
ANKAOUA Abraham (1810-1860). Morocco. Rabbi. Chief Rabbi of Tlemcen, Mascara, Tunis and Livorno. Author of Otsrot hayim (Life treasures).
ANKAOUA Ephraïm (?-1442). Spain. Rabbi in Morocco and Algeria. Doctor. Philosopher. Linguist. Author of Chah’ar Kévod Hachém (Gates to Divinity). An object of pilgrimage as a saint.
ANKAOUA Raphaël (1848-1935). Morocco. Rabbi. Founder of a Rabbinical learning centre and a high rabbinic court in Rabat. Author of Pah’amon zahav (the golden bell). Became an object of pilgrimage as a saint.
ANKAOUA Yom Tov (XVIIIes.). Turkey. Rabbi. Author of commentaries on Maimonides and many rabbinical rulings.


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)