Mazel tov or mazal tov (Hebrew/Yiddish: מזל טוב, Hebrew: mazal tov; Yiddish: mazel tov; lit. "good luck [has occurred]"). The phrase is used to express "congratulations" for a happy and significant occasion or event.

Etymology and pronunciation

While the word mazal (or mazel in Yiddish; "luck" or "fortune") and tov ("good") are Hebrew in origin, the phrase is of Yiddish origin, and was later incorporated into Modern Hebrew. The phrase is recorded as entering into English from Yiddish in 1862 as "mazel tov".[1][2]

The main difference in pronunciation is that, like many words, in Hebrew the emphasis is on the second syllable, whereas in Yiddish it is on the first one. In addition it is mazal in Hebrew and mazel in Yiddish.

The expression comes from the Mishnaic Hebrew mazzāl, meaning "constellation" or "destiny." This in turn is thought to have derived from the Akkadian language manzaltu, mazzaztum.[2]


Although mazel tov literally translates to "good luck" the phrase is not used in the way that the expression "good luck" is used in English (typically as "I wish you good luck"). It rather means "good luck has occurred" or "your fortune has been good" and is an acknowledgement of this. The phrase "mazel tov!" parallels the use of the phrase "congratulations!" and conveys roughly that "I am pleased this good thing has happened to you!".

The phrase for wishing good luck to occur in Hebrew, in the way "good luck" does in English, is b'hatzlacha (בהצלחה), literally meaning "with success".[3]


In the diaspora, "mazel tov!" is a common Jewish phrase, such as after a bar or bat mitzvah or a wedding, the congregation may be inclined to shout "Mazel Tov!" For instance, at a Jewish wedding, after the groom breaks the glass everyone yells "Mazel Tov!"

In Israel, "mazal tov" is used for all sorts of happy occasions, whether they be a new driver's license, a birthday, or the end of military service. Another common use is to acknowledge a bad event or experience being over - for example, after a very hard test.

See also


  1. Mazel Tov: Merriam-Webster
  2. 2.0 2.1 Mazel Tov, Random House Dictionary
  3. B'hatzlacha, Milon Morfix

External links

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Mazel tov. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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