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The name Haim can be a first name or surname originating in the Hebrew language, or deriving from the Old German name Haimo.

Hebrew etymology[edit]

Chayyim (Hebrew: חַיִּים Ḥayyīm, Classical Hebrew: [ħajˈjiːm], Israeli Hebrew: [ˈχa.im, ħaˈjim]), also transcribed Haim, Hayim, Chayim, or Chaim (English pronunciations: /hm/ HYME, /xm/ KHYME, /ˈxɑːjm/ KHAH-yeem), is a Hebrew name meaning "life". Its first usage can be traced to the Middle Ages. It is a popular name among Jewish people.[1] The feminine form for this name is Chaya[2] (Hebrew: חַיָּה Ḥayyah, Classical Hebrew: [ħajˈjaː], Israeli Hebrew: [ˈχaja, ħaˈja]; English pronunciations: /ˈhɑːjɑː/ HAH-yah, /ˈxɑːjɑː/ KHAH-yah).

Chai is the Hebrew word for "alive". According to Kabbalah, the name Hayim helps the person to remain healthy, and people were known to add Hayim as a second name to improve their health.

In the United States, Chaim is a common spelling; however, since the phonemic pattern is unusual for English words, Hayim is often used as an alternative spelling. The "ch" spelling comes from transliteration of the Hebrew letter "chet", which also starts words like Chanukah, Channa, etc., which can also be spelled as Hanukah and Hannah. It is cognate to the Arabic word حياة (ḥayāh), with the same meaning, deriving from the same Proto-Semitic root.

Hebrew letters are also used as numerals, and the Hebrew letters that spell "chai" also stand for the number 18. Thus, 18 is considered a lucky number in Jewish culture. It is common to give gifts and contributions to charity in multiples of 18.

Common secular replacements for the name Haim include Heinrich and Harvey. Among Argentine Jews, the Spanish name Jaime (Spanish: [ˈxajme], a Spanish cognate of James) is often chosen for its phonetic similarity to Haim.

The names Vivian and Zoe have a similar meaning.

L'Chaim toast[edit]

L'Chaim in Hebrew is a toast meaning "to life". When a couple becomes engaged, they get together with friends and family to celebrate. Since they drink l'chaim ("to life"), the celebration is also called a l'chaim.

The origins of the custom to toast this way may be traced to an account described in the Talmud, where R. Akiva said upon pouring cups of wine poured at a banquet a benediction of "Wine and life to the mouth of the sages, wine and life to the mouth of the sages and their students."[3] Many reasons for this custom have been offered. One reason based on the Zohar is to wish that the wine would be tied to the tree of life and not to the tree of death with which Eve had sinned. A second reason brought forward is that there was a common practice to make people who intend to kill drink wine and thereby be calmed, and therefore there is a custom to proclaim "to life!" over wine in the hope that it will prevent bloodshed. A third reason is that wine was created to comfort those who are in mourning (based on Proverbs 31:6) and there emerged a practice to toast thus when drinking in sad times in the hope that one day the drinker will drink wine in good happy times, and the practice of toasting this way subsequently extended to all situations.[4]

Old German etymology[edit]

The earliest attested forms of this etymology occur in Old German, as Haimo. This Old German name was borrowed into Old French, including into the Anglo-Norman dialect spoken in England, in forms including Haim. This became one source of the English surname Haim, along with variants like Hame, Haim, Haime, Haimes, Hains, Haines, Hayns, Haynes, Hammon and Hammond.[5]

In 1881, three people in Great Britain bore the surname Haim and 67 the surname Haime. Around 2011, the numbers stood at 94 and 173 respectively, with two bearers of the surname Haim in Ireland.[5]

People with the given name Haim[edit]

Notable people with the name include:

People with the surname Haim[edit]


The word Haim is common among Jewish and Israeli organisations and institutions.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mike Campbell. "Meaning, Origin and History of the Name Chayyim". Behind the Name. Retrieved 2013-08-12.
  2. ^ Mike Campbell. "Meaning, Origin and History of the Name Chaya". Behind the Name. Retrieved 2013-08-12.
  3. ^ Donin, Hayim H. (1980). To Pray as a Jew: A Guide to the Prayer Book and the Synagogue Service. Basic Books. p. 310. ISBN 978-1-5416-7403-5.
  4. ^ S.Z. Ariel (1960), Enẓiklopedyah Me'ir Nativ le-Halakhot, Minhagim, Darkhei Musar u-Ma'asim Tovim, s.v. "לחיים"
  5. ^ a b The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland, ed. by Patrick Hanks, Richard Coates, and Peter McClure, 4 vols (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), II, pp. 1168–67 [s.vv. Haim, Haime]; ISBN 978-0-19-967776-4.