Meaning of the Word “Kippur”


Hello Rabbi,

I am exploring the concept of ‘coverings’ as it appears throughout the Tanakh; however, I am a novice of Hebrew and was hoping you could clarify for me the scope of meaning for the word kippur, as in Yom Kippur.

I know that kippur is most often translated as ‘atonement’, and carries with it the idea of expiation or cleansing from one’s sins. I have also heard, however, that it carries with it the sense of ‘covering’, as in a covering over of one’s sins, and that it may be related to the word kippah, as in the traditional Jewish head covering. Is ‘covering’ an acceptable translation of the word kippur?

Many thanks for your time and consideration!



  1. The word “kippur” is actually quite a versatile one as it has diverse meanings. As you point out, it can mean atonement. It can also mean a covering or a protection, see Genesis 6:14. It can also mean annulling, see Isaiah 28:18. It can also mean ransoming, see Exodus 30:12. It can also mean a curtain, see Exodus 25:17.

    I am not familiar with the word kippah also originating from the word kippur. The word kippah means a dome in Hebrew.

    Best wishes from the Team