The Marseilles Lexicon
by Mark Filipas

Each pictorial element of the Marseilles trumps is listed below in English and in Hebrew(1).

This list is based upon the Hebrew lexicon as it existed at the time of the early Tarot. Words highlighted in magenta denote words which are known to have existed in Medieval and Renaissance sources and are identified as such by Jastrow’s and/or Grossman’s Dictionaries(2). Words highlighted in cyan are also from those sources and denote explicit similarities between the literal meaning of that letter’s name (or derivatives thereof) and the corresponding trump image.


Aleph

Jugglery, Magic tricks — AChYZTh OYNIM
Bench — ATzTBH
Thin tube (in his hand) — ABVB
Cup — ANBG, ANPQ
Coin — AGVRH, ADVM, AYSR, ASThRA, ARGRVN
Balls — ASQRYTY
Cylinder — ATzTVNH
Knife, Dagger — AVGRTh, ARRN
Purse, Pouch, Wallet — AVDYA, ARNQ, APVNDH, APSThYP
Fringe (on the pouch) — AVMRYTh, AYMRH
Hat — APYLYVN, APYLYVTh
Brim — AVGN, AGN
Festive suit — ASTLYTh
Waistband, Belt — ABNT, AZVRH
Cloth shoes — AMPLYA
Young shoots of a plant — AB


Bet

Sibyl, Seer — BDQ, BOLH, BOL HZYH, BTh QVL
Reader of the Scriptures — BOL QRYAH
Temple — BYTh
Temple veil, Curtain — BNYThA
Headdress — BYYKA, BRTzVTz
Priest’s cloak — BGDY KHNH
Pinafore — BTNVN
Book —
(transliteration not yet found in Hebrew sources) BYBLVS

Words suggesting a possible allusion to Pope Joan:

Virgin — BThVLH
Sexual intercourse — BYTh (euphanism), BOYLH
One no longer a virgin — BOL
Pregnancy — BTN, BYTNThA
Swollen belly — BVTNA
Shame — BVSh, BYHVThA


Gimel

Queen — GBYRH
Ball-shaped knob on cane — GLH
Globe — GLVBVS
Bird of prey, Falcon — GZ, GS
Gear wheel (around her neck) — GLGL
Wing (object at her waist?) — GDPA, GP
Bowl-shaped capital of pillar (object at her waist?) — GLH
Rounded peaks, Unhewn stones — GBVShYM, GBNVN


Dalet

Duke — DVKVS, DVRA, DVS
Profile — DYVQN
Beard — DQN
Crown — DYR
Wreath, Laurel — DVR, DPNH
Carrying pole, Standard — DGLA
Rostrum — DVKN
Bird of prey, Kite — DAH, DYH
Cloth shoes — DRDSA
Grass, Sprouts — DYThAH, DQYThA, DShA


He

Pontiff — HGMVN
Faith — HAMNH, HBTChH, HYMNV
Temple — HYKL
Consecration — HQDSh, HThQDShVTh
Crown, Headress — HDR
Divided into thirds — HShThLSh
Clasp (around neck) — HDQ
Bishops (chess pieces, the two figures) — HGMVN
Baldness — HQRChH


Vav

Love — VDO
Confession of love — VDVY AHBH
Marriage — VGVHY
Couple — VGVHY
Elder — VThYQ
Palm leaf (matron’s headdress) — VBA
To point (all three figures are pointing) — VDY
Wooden poker (arrow) — VDY
Hook (arrowhead) — VV


Zayin

Triumph — ZKH, ZKY
Military Guard — ZQYP
Crown — ZR, ZVR, ZYR
Moon — ZHRA
Armor, Cuirass — ZYN, ZVNY, ZRDA
Jewel in breastplate — ZVZYN
Rod of an officer — ZMVRH
War Horses — ZRZYR
One with unequal pair of eyes or eyebrows — ZGDVM, ZGDN
Cut off tail-end — ZNB
Horse’s bit — ZMM, ZMVM
Spokes — ZRVO
Scaffolding, Pole — ZQYPA
Silks used for canopies — ZHVRYVTh
Seed, Grain (on the ground) — ZVN, ZYR, ZRO, ZKR
Young shoots of a plant — ZRD


Chet

Judgment, Verdict — ChYThVK, ChLT
Judge — ChKTh
Sword — ChRB
Eye of a needle — ChRYR, ChRR
Thread — ChVT
To weigh — ChShB
Sun (symbol on headdress)— ChMH, ChRS
Screen partition — ChYTz, ChYTzH
Rope around the neck — ChNQA
Young shoots of a plant — ChLP


Tet

Time — (transliteration not yet found in Hebrew sources) TMPV
Elder — TB, TVB
Prayer cloak, Cloak — TRYGVN, TLYTh
Head cover — TRTYN
To lift up — TLA, TLY
To shine — TVP
Rod — TLTL
Three-legged — TRSQL


Yud

Iynx (oracular wheel of fortune) — YNQS
To turn — YTzR
To ascend, Rise to power — YRSh
To prevail, To have power — YKL
To descend, To become poor — YRD
Creature — YTzVR, YLYLA
Handle — YD, YDYTh
Axle — YD
Base — YSD, YSVDH
Peg — YThD
Sea — YM


Kaph

Strength — KCh, KChYVTh, KP
To restrain, subdue — KBSh
Crown — KVThRTh, KLYL, KRBLTh, KThR
Bonnet — KMThH
Cape — KLNYDYYA, KRVBThA
Gown with wide sleeves — KNDA
Cinched, Tied up — KRCh, KRK
Tight sleeves — KYRVMNYQYA
Lion — KPYR
Dog, Wild dog — KLB, KVPRY
Teeth — KKA


Lamed

Informant — LChSh, LYTYRYN
Thief — LYSTA
Capture, Snare — LKD
Punishment — LQVTh
Attached to — LVA, LVBD, LVY, LMD, LPP, LThA
Strapped up — LBVB
Sidepost — LChY
Two posts supporting a beam — LVLB
Tongue of flame (the lopped branches) — LHBH
Board, Plank — LVCh
Mortised boards — LMVD, LYMVDYM
Athwart, Across from side to side — LVKSN
Bound, Tied — LGTV
Noose, Loop — LVLAH, LVLY, LLAH, LPTh
Downwards — LMTH, LRO
Tunic — LSVTH
Moon (crescents on tunic)— LBNH
Sprout — LVLB


Mem

Death — MVTh, MYThH, MMVTh
Corpse — MYTh, MTh
Reaper — MQTzRH
Scythe — MGL
King — MLK
Queen — MLKH
Head — MVCh
Crown — MKLLThA
Metacarpus (hand) — MThVK HYD
Metatarsus (foot) — MThVK HRGL
Threshing — MDYShH
Lawn, Turf — MDShAH


Nun

Temperance, To be tempered — NZYRH, NPShR, NThChSM
Continuous pouring from vessel to vessel — NTzVQ
Flowing water — NVB, NVZLYM, NZL
To pour out — NGR, NSK, NThK
To fill up — NTP
Vessel — NBGA, NBL, NGVDA, NChShTh, NTLA,
Feathers, Plumage — NTzH
Flower, Blossom — NTz
Sprouts — NBYH


Samech

Satan — STN
Thorny twigs — SVGYYNA, SYGA, SYLThA, SKK
Polished metal helmet — SNVVRThA, SNVARThH
Cross-eyed — SKY
Fins (of a fish) — SNPYR
Muffler (around neck) — SVDR
Marked with red paint — SQRThA, SRT, SRQ
To support, Prop — SMK
Ring for attaching yoke — SVMK
Rope of a yoke — SMVYN
To attach, To tie together — SVM
Tied up — SMYVTh
Blade — SKYN
Anvil — SDN
Eunuch — SRYS
Castration — SRS, SYRVS
Fence — SGYA, SHR, SVGH, SChR, SYG


Ayin

Flash of light — ODY
Fortification — OYR
Ruin, Destroyed place — OY, OZVBH
Evil eye — OYN
Crown — OTRH
Upper story — OLY, OLYH
Attacked by fire — OYKVL
To Detach, To tear loose — OQR
Brickwork — OTRH
Soot, Smoke, Debris — OPR, OShN
Foundation of building — OVMQA
Grass — OShB


Peh

Pleiades — PLYDVTh
Paradise — PRDS
Lights — PVTA
Tree — PLVMRYH, PRSQ
Bird — PVRYThH, PYRVZ, PRChThA, PRYGA, PRYDH, PShVShA
Nakedness — PYOVR, PRM, PShT
Navel — PRThA
Orifice of the womb — PH, PVThH
Bank of a Stream — PH
Stream, Spring — PYGY, PLG
Open vessels — PH
Vessel, Jar — PK, PTYS, PYTVS, PYQTNY, PThRA
To disperse — PVTz, PZR, PYZVR, PYLVG, PYS, PLG
Parthenos, the Virgin — PRThNVS
— possible allusion of the two vessels to the rivers of Paradise —
The river Pishon — PYShVN
The river Euphrates — PRTh


Tzaddi

Conjunction (of sun and moon) — TzRVP
Heavenly bodies — TzBA HShMYM
To eclipse — TzAL, TzLL
Great Darkness, Deep Shadow — TzLMVTh
To make desolate (implication of an eclipse) — TzDY
Hyenas — TzBVOYM
Baying at the Moon— TzOQ HY VQYM
Droplets — TzChTzVCh
Thirst — TzChYA, TzMA
Pincers, Pair of tongs — TzBTh, TzNVRTh
Water — TzNYM, TzNYNYM
To be Submerged — TzLL
To surface — TzP
Castles, Rooks (chess pieces) — TzRYChYM


Qoph

Castor (and Pollux; twins of Gemini) — QYQYVN, QSTVR
Summer - QYT, QYTz
Sunbeam, Ray — QRN
Droplets — QVRT
Children — QTNVThYM
Collar around neck — QVLR
Wall — QVPYA, QYR


Resh

Resurrection (transliteration not yet found in Hebrew sources) — ?
Sounding of the trumpet — RAOThA, RVO
Raziel, the Herald Angel — RZYAL
Regeneration — RGNRTzYH
Small rectangular cloth (the flag) — RVNQYN
Flames — RShP
To raise up — RVM, RVMM, RYM, RMM
Spirits of the Dead — RPAYM
Tomb, Resting place — RBTz
Young woman — RYBA, RYBH
Elder man — RVBH
Young man — RBY, RBYVThA, RVBA
Pavement blocks — RBYOYTh, RVBD


Shin

Portal of Heaven — ShOR HShMYM
(Portal — ShOR, Heaven — ShMYA, ShMYM)
Intertwined boughs, Plaited branches — ShBShB, ShVBK, ShOR
(Note that the letters ShOR spell both intertwined boughs and portal)
Almond-shaped — ShQD
Lattice work — ShBKH
Bands (top and bottom plaiting) – ShBYS, ShVRYYNY, ShNTz
To pass through a hollow space — ShChL
To skip — ShRG
Naked, Barefoot — ShVLL
Strip of cloth — ShVSThG
Cape — ShKMYH
Scepter, Rod — ShBT, ShVLTYThA, ShRBYT
Rod holder — ShVShTH
Potion — ShQVYYA
Angel — ShNAN, ShR, ShRP
Eagle — ShLK, ShRQRQ, ShVRYNQA
Lion — ShChL, ShChTz
Bull — ShVR
Tooth, Claw, Hoof, Horn — ShN
Clouds — ShChQ
Crescent ornament — ShHRVN


Tav

Folly — ThHLH, ThPLH
Fool — ThVRMVN, ThRDA
Vagabond — ThVOH
Wandering, Waywardness — ThYVBA, ThOH
Masquerade costume, Mask, Disguise — ThChPShTh, ThLBVShTh
Crownlet — ThYN
Timbrel (around waist and neck) — ThP, ThVP
Knapsack, Travelling bag — ThRMYL
To carry a knapsack — ThRML
To suspend, To hang down — ThLY, ThLH
Pole — ThRN
Ladle — ThRVD
Staff, Crutch — ThGDA, ThGRA
Fox — ThOL, ThOLA, ThOLH
Wolf — ThVRMVS
Tearing off — ThLYShH, ThLSh
Pantaloons — ThChThVNYM
Underpants — ThChThVNYM
Furrows, Hillocks — ThLVLYTh, ThL, ThLM, ThPThYChA

——

Continue to The Tarocchino Milanese Lexicon
the alphabetic sequence of the Soprafino iconography

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Footnotes:

(1) See the Hebrew transliteration key below.

(2) See the Bibliography below.

Key to the English transliterations above:

A — aleph
B — bet
G — gimel
D — dalet
H — he
V — vav
Z — zayin
Ch — chet
T — tet
Y — yud
K — kaph
L — lamed
M — mem
N — nun
S — samech
O — ayin
P — peh
Tz — tzaddi
Q — qoph
R — resh
Sh — shin
Th — tav

Bibliography:

Jastrow, Marcus, Ph.D. Litt.D. A Dictionary of the Targumim, the Talmud Babli and the Yerushalmi, and the Midrashic Literature, The Judaica Press, 1992 (first published in 1903).

Grossman, Reuben. Compendious Hebrew–English Dictionary, Comprising a complete vocabulary of Biblical, Mishnaic, Medieval and Modern Hebrew, Dvir Publishing Co., 1938.

Copyright 2002 Mark Filipas – 7/21/02