Last night at dinner we got to talking about the Hebrew word "machtesh," which is usually translated as "crater." There is a geological feature in the Negev desert called the "machtesh," apparently because they first thought it was a crater, created by a meteor, but later figured out that it wasn't — instead geologists determined it is a natural geologic feature.
One of the guests at the dinner table said her teacher in school told her there is no English translation for "machtesh," it's a Hebrew word that's used to describe that particular geological feature of an area hollowed out by water.This sounded a little curious to me, so I decided to get out a dictionary and look. Being it was Shabbos, we did it the old fashioned way, and used a real paper dictionary. They did translate machtesh as either crater or mortar (as in mortar and pestle). But the interesting part — and the part that made it clear the dictionary must have been written in Israel — is the sentence they had in Hebrew to describe a machtesh:
אחרי ההתפוצצות מצאנו מכתש ליד הבית.
Which translates as "After the explosion, we found a crater near the house."
Not a sentence that an American dictionary would likely use to demonstrate usage of the word "crater!"
The dictionary, by the way, was published in Tel Aviv…