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Q&A

Why is the word "maniac" considered such a strong insult in Hebrew?

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When I first moved to Israel, one of the first things I was warned about was using the word "maniac". As an American, this is considered a very minor insult - minor enough for little kids to use without a problem, at least.

In Israel, though, the transliteration מניאק has connotation of a much stronger insult. It's considered one of the more offensive things you can call someone (which, of course, means it sees liberal use amongst the teens).

How did this split happen? Why did the word take on a much more negative connotation in Hebrew than in English?

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3 comment threads

Is there a native (not loan) word for this? (3 comments)
Did you ask this on https://old.reddit.com/r/LearnHebrew/, https://old.reddit.com/r/hebrew/? (2 comments)
In which language did the meaning shift? Literally, a maniac is a dangerously insane person. In Engli... (1 comment)

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