IPA o or
Transliteration o
English example shore
Similar sound Qamatz qaṭan, ḥataf qamatz
Ḥolam Example
The word noʿar (youth) in Hebrew. The first vowel (the dot above the letter) is the ḥolam.
Ḥolam male Example
The word ḥolam in Hebrew. The letter vav ו with the dot above it is the Ḥolam male itself.
Other Niqqud
Shva · Hiriq · Zeire · Segol · Patach · Kamatz · Holam · Dagesh · Mappiq · Shuruk · Kubutz · Rafe · Sin/Shin Dot

Holam (Hebrew: חוֹלָם ḥolam, Modern Hebrew: [χoˈlam], Biblical Hebrew: [ħoˈlam]) is a Hebrew niqqud vowel sign represented by a dot above the upper left corner of the consonant letter. For example, here the ḥolam appears after the letter mem מ: מֹ. In modern Hebrew it indicates the mid back rounded vowel, [], and is transliterated as an o.

The mater lectionis letter which is usually employed with ḥolam is vav, although in a few words, the letters alef or he are used instead of vav. When it is used with a mater lectionis, the ḥolam is called ḥolam male (Modern: [χoˈlam maˈle], Biblical: [ħoˈlam maˈle], "full ḥolam"), and without it the ḥolam is called ḥolam ḥaser (Modern: [χoˈlam χaˈseʁ], Biblical: [ħoˈlam ħaˈser]).


Holam without mater lectionis after it or with the letter He, as in פֹּה (/po/, "here"), is written as a dot above the upper left corner of the letter after which it is pronounced. Letter-spacing is not supposed to be affected by it, although some buggy computer fonts may add an unneeded space before the next letter.

In the word דֹּאר, the Biblical Hebrew spelling of the name Dor, the alef is a mater lectionis, and in traditional typography the Holam is written above the alef's right arm. In the word דֹּאַר (/ˈdo.aʁ/, "mail"), the alef is a consonant (a glottal stop), under which appears the vowel pataḥ, so the ḥolam is written above the previous letter's upper left corner. Not all fonts actually implement these placement rules, however.

If the mater lectionis is vav, the ḥolam appears above the vav. If the mater lectionis is alef, as in לֹא (/lo/, "no"), it is supposed to appear above the alef's right hand, although this is not implemented in all computer fonts, and not always appears even in professionally typeset modern books, so ḥolam with alef may, in fact, appear in the same place as a regular ḥolam ḥaser. If thealef itself is not a mater lectionis, but a consonant, the ḥolam appears in its regular place above the upper left corner of the previous letter, as in תֹּאַר (/ˈto.aʁ/, "epithet").

If ḥolam ḥaser is written after vav, as in לִגְוֺעַ (/liɡˈvo.aʕ/, "to agonize"), it may appear above the vav, or slightly further to the left; this varies between different fonts. In some fonts Holam merges with the Shin dot, in words such as חֹשֶׁךְ (/ˈħoʃeχ/, 'darkness') or with the Sin dot, as in שֹׂבַע (/ˈsovaʕ/, 'satiation').


Holam male is, in general, the most common way to write the /o/ sound in modern spelling with niqqud. If a word has Holam male in spelling with niqqud, the mater lectionis letter vav is without any exception retained in spelling without niqqud, both according to the spelling rules of the Academy of the Hebrew Language and in common practice.

The use of ḥolam ḥaser is restricted to certain word patterns, although many common words appear in them. In most cases the Academy's spelling rules mandate that the vav will be written even when the spelling with niqqud does not have it. The normative exceptions from this rule are listed below. It must also be noted, that the Academy's standard is not followed perfectly by all the speakers and common deviations from it are also noted below.

In Biblical Hebrew the above rules are not followed consistently, and sometimes the vav is omitted or added.[1]

For further complications involving Kamatz katan and Hataf kamatz, see the article Kamatz.

Holam haser which is written as vav in text without niqqud

For details on the transcription of Hebrew, see WP:IPA for Hebrew and Hebrew phonology

Several common words are spelled with ḥolam ḥaser in the Bible, but the Academy mandates that they be spelled with Holam male in modern Hebrew, among them: כֹּחַ/כּוֹחַ ('force'), /ˈkoaħ/, מֹחַ/מוֹחַ ('brain'), /ˈmoaħ/, יַהֲלֹם/יַהֲלוֹם ('a precious stone', in modern Hebrew 'diamond'), /jahaˈlom/, מְאֹד/מְאוֹד ('very'), /məʔod/, פִּתְאֹם/פִּתְאוֹם ('suddenly'), /pitˈʔom/. Some people still spell them without vav, but the standard spelling is with vav.[6]

The participle of most verbs in binyan Qal is often written with ḥolam ḥaser in the Bible, but always with Holam male in modern Hebrew. For example, in the Bible appear both חֹזֶה and חוֹזֶה ('seer'), /ħoˈze/, but in modern Hebrew only חוֹזֶה.

Holam with other matres lectionis

The most common reason for not writing the /o/ sound as a vav in text without niqqud is when in text with niqqud the mater lectionis is Alef (א) or He (ה) instead of vav. In the Bible some words are irregularly and inconsistently spelled with ה as a mater lectionis - זֹה along זוֹ, בֵּיתֹה along בֵּיתוֹ, etc., but the number of these irregularities was brought to minimum in modern Hebrew.

Holam without vav in personal names

Some examples of usage of Holam without vav in personal names:


The following table contains the pronunciation and transliteration of the different Holams in reconstructed historical forms and dialects using the International Phonetic Alphabet. The transcription in IPA is above and the transliteration is below.

The letters pe פ and tsade צ are used in this table is only for demonstration. Any letter can be used.

Symbol Name Pronunciation
Israeli Ashkenazi Sephardi Yemenite Tiberian Reconstructed
Mishnaic Biblical
פֹ , פוֹ Holam [o(ː)] [oɪ ~ øɪ ~ eɪ ~ əʊ ~ ɐʊ ~ ɑʊ ~ oʊ] [o(ː)] [ɶ ~ ɤ ~ œ] [o] [oː] [oː]
פֹה , צֹא Holam male [o(ː)] [oɪ ~ øɪ ~ eɪ ~ əʊ ~ ɐʊ ~ ɑʊ ~ oʊ] [o(ː)] [ɶ ~ ɤ ~ œ] [o] [oː] [oː]

Vowel length comparison

These vowels lengths are not manifested in modern Hebrew. In addition, the short o is usually promoted to a long o in Israeli writing for the sake of disambiguation. As well, the short o (qamatz qaṭan) and long a (qamatz) have the same niqqud. As a result, a qamatz qaṭan is usually promoted to ḥolam male in Israeli writing for the sake of disambiguation.

Vowel Length IPA Transliteration English
Long Short Very Short
וֹ ָ n/a [] o cone

Computer encoding

Glyph Unicode Name

Although it is normally ignored and the HEBREW POINT HOLAM (U+05B9) is used in all cases, in computers there are three ways to distinguish the vowel ḥolam male and the consonant-vowel combination vav + ḥolam ḥaser, for example in the pair מַצּוֹת (/maˈt͡sot/, the plural of מַצָּה, matza) and מִצְוֹת (/miˈt͡svot/, the plural of מִצְוָה mitzva):[19]

  1. By using the zero-width non-joiner after the vav and before the ḥolam: מִצְוֹת
  2. By using the Unicode character U+05BA HEBREW POINT HOLAM HASER FOR VAV: מִצְוֺת.
  3. By the precomposed character,[20] U+FB4B (HTML Entity (decimal) וֹ) מִצְוֹת

See also


  1. Academy Decisions: Grammar, 2nd edition, §1.3; Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar, §8l
  2. Rarely used in the singular in Modern Hebrew.
  3. Rarely used in the plural in Modern Hebrew.
  4. Academy Decisions: Grammar, 2nd edition, §1.3.
  5. This word becomes כָּל־ in construct state, which is very common, so as another exception it is written without vav in spelling without niqqud: כל־האנשים ('all the people'), but היא יודעת הכול ('she knows all').
  6. The full list appears at Academy Decisions: Grammar, 2nd edition, §1.3.
  7. 1 2 Rare in modern Hebrew.
  8. Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar, §68; the Even-Shoshan Dictionary for the modern forms.
  9. Academy Decisions: Grammar, 2nd edition, §3.5.
  10. This word is written לוֹא several times in the Bible, but such spelling never occurs in modern Hebrew. With the particle הֲ־ and only when it is used as a synonym of הִנֵּה ('here') it may be written both as הלוא and as הלא (Academy Decisions: Grammar, 2nd edition, §2.4.4), but this usage is rare in modern Hebrew.
  11. The word נוֹד is pronounced identically and means "wandering". It appears in the Bible and is rare in modern Hebrew. The Even-Shoshan dictionary also notes that it is an incorrect spelling for נֹאד.
  12. This word is actually spelled as שמאול several times in the Bible, but never in modern Hebrew. However, the intentionally wrong spelling סמול is often used as a disparaging term for the political left and is documented in Uri Orbach's lexicon of Religious Zionist slang.
  13. The Even-Shoshan Dictionary also registers the modern Hebrew word אֵיפֹשֶׁהוּ ('somewhere'), /efoʃehu/, which is based on אֵיפֹה and , ־שֶׁהוּ - the ending of the indefinite pronouns משהו, כלשהו, ('some'). The Academy has not decided on a standard spelling of this word.
  14. The related participle מוֹשֶׁה ('pulling out of water') is written with vav in modern Hebrew. Modern diminutive forms of Moshe, such as Moshiko (מושיקו) are written with vav.
  15. A common modern diminutive version of this name is regularly spelled שלומי (Shlomi).
  16. For example, in Avot 5:2 in the Kaufmann manuscript.
  17. Academy Decisions: Grammar, 2nd edition, §1.3 fn. 55.
  18. According to The Brown–Driver–Briggs Hebrew Lexicon.
  19. This is the Biblical spelling in Jeremiah 35:18 (actually מִצְו‍ֺתָיו). The standard modern Hebrew spelling, with niqqud, is with ḥolam male: מִצְווֹת.
  20. Also known as a presentation form in Unicode.
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