Worst Hebrew Jessica So Far

Edit: Yes, I admit it, I was wrong. As pointed out by Anonymous, Yiska is the original Hebrew name for Jessica (and I never knew!!). Most Hebrew speakers would probably be confused by this rather obscure name, but it's all true.

Deep apologies to the owner of this not-wrong-after-all tattoo. I'm leaving the post up, just so you can see that Typo can go wrong too.

Jessica is a popular name for girls, and apparently many of them want their names on Hebrew tattoos. I have already had the pleasure of hosting a bad Jessica tattoo here on the site a while back. The badness of today's entry, though... is very hard to beat.

To make a long story short, this tattoo says "Iska". I would have never identified this as "Jessica", had the owner not said so herself.

There are three big problems here, and a fourth smaller one:
  • The worst is the substitution of J by the Hebrew letter Yod. We've seen the same thing in Christina Aguilera's Hebrew tattoo. Unlike Aguilera's case, however, this one is a definite mistake that cannot be explained away!
  • The I in Jessica is tragically missing. Wherever did it go?
  • The Nikkud (vowels) is completely random. Honestly, if you don't know your Nikkud, it is much better to leave it out than to proceed making a fool of yourself.
  • And the most insignificant: The C in Jessica is not the one conventionally used for this name. The name Jessica is usually written with a Qof, while the tattoo uses a Kaf. It's not a very big deal, but the natives would notice.
Yes, this is how "Jessica" can be turned into "Iska" in just four easy steps!

Now, if you're also happen to be named Jessica, and you're after a Hebrew tattoo of your very own, this is how it's correctly written in Hebrew:

And do remember folks, if it's a name tattoo that you desire, never attempt composing it yourself! Even if you feel confident in your Hebrew abilities, there are conventions for writing foreign names in modern Hebrew, and you're very unlikely to get it right.

The only way to avoid a wreck is by asking a native Hebrew speaker for a translation, then verifying with another native speaker (you can never be too sure!). You could also use Reut's translation service. She's the one responsible for the surprising lack of bad Hebrew tattoos on Flickr these days...


  1. In this case, I must disagree. יסכה is a valid Hebrew name, and it is the name of Lot's sister. Furthermore, in the Hebrew translation of Shakespeare's Shylock, the name of his daughter Jessica is translated as Yisca. So I actually think this tattoo is incredibly well-researched.

  2. Hmm, yes. I suppose Jessica did her research better than I did. Maybe too well, as this Hebrew name is quite unpopular nowadays.

    You're of course correct, though. I won't take the post down, but I did write a disclaimer.

  3. this is interesting.
    I know a girl called Yiska, but I never realised this was the origin of the name Jessica. we learn something new every day. :)

  4. While working in Ra'anana I met an obstetrician whose gorgeous smile almost convinced me to do a gender-change(!) Her name? Yiska. She said 'You can look it up', but I was no longer capable of etymology by that point. Glad to read a happy ending here.

  5. I'm an example of where the two names converge. My English name is Jessica and my Hebrew name is Yiskah. Glad to know that the name Yiskah is still out there and circulating, even if it's not all that common or known.

    And yes, it is a Biblical name, although I've heard conflicting things. I've read that it was another name for Sarai/Sarah, as well as Abraham's brother's wife's sister's name. It seems that we can all agree that it appears in Genesis, though.

  6. LOL you will be surprised at the amount of unusual but by no means meaningless hebrew names.
    i know 2 girls named yiska spelled precisely as the tattoo indicates.

    also a few more names of friends that you might be surprised to find:
    achzava אכזבה
    atara עטרה

    the name achzava was given to her since it means "disappointment" since her parents were disappointed she wasn't born a male.

    atara means crown,but also refers to "the tip of the penis" or the area "around the nipple".

    these kind of strange names happen.

  7. The name Yiska isn't so uncommon, I know 3... Also, Shlomy, the name Atara is really common, but mainly amongst English speakers, as most Israelis wouldn't name their kids that.

  8. In TANAKH Abes brother had a daughter by the name of Yiskah. Abe married her and she became his "Princess" = Sarah. Sarah or Sarai is a title and not a name. Jessica or Yiskah is indeed the name of the wife of Abraham. As for the tattoos...Its contrary to Jewish faith and I find it idiot that people use our faith but never wish to understand it. These "Kabbalah" entertainers are nothing less than morons. Kabbalah is NOT a faith and to use it for the sake of obtaining a tattoo is childish.


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