The Meaning of Mazel Tov: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of mazel tov? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the phrase mazel tov, including its definition, usage, and more!

Your writing, at its best

Compose bold, clear, mistake-free, writing with Grammarly's AI-powered writing assistant

What does the phrase mazel tov mean?

According to My Jewish Learning and Vines of the Yarra Valley, the Hebrew phrase mazel tov means good luck or congratulations. This term can also be spelled mazal tov, mazl tov, or mazel tof though this is last place in popularity. You might hear the Hebrew phrase mazel tov at a Jewish wedding, the end of military service, at festivals or a congregation, by guests of a bat mitzvah or bar mitzvahs,  at brit milah (bris) ceremonies, a birthday, graduation, engagement, or other happy occasion like when a teenager gets a new driver’s license, completes a big challenge or someone buys a new house or place of residence. This term is meant to wish good fortune on the event and to express congratulations for the significant occasion. 

At a wedding, this would be shouted after the breaking of the glass. Rabbis may request a pause between the breaking of the glass and a host of people saying Mazel Tov to distinguish that they are not celebrating the breaking of the glass or congratulating a newly wedded couple about the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash, or Holy Temple. After, Eim Eshkachech Yerushalayim is often sung, a sombre song that sometimes causes confusion.

People do not normally use mazel tov with pregnant women out of of superstition that something might happen to the baby. Instead, one should say “b’sha’ah tovah,” (beh-shah-AH toe-VAH) which means ‘at a good time.” You would only use mazel tov once the baby is born. While mazel tov technically means good luck, the Hebreew phrase someone would use for this is b’hatzlacha ( בהצלחה‎), literally meaning “with success.” In Jewish tradition, the signs of the zodiac are called mazalot, from mazzaztum meaning position of a star, from the Akkadian manzaltu. Galgal hamazalot is the wheel of the zodiac.

This term comes from the Mishnaic Hebrew mazzāl tōbh/mazzāl ṭôb, meaning “constellation” “destiny” or “ “a drip from above” and was later incorporated into Modern Hebrew as the Hebrew טוֹב and Hebrew מַזָּל. In Yiddish origin, the stress is on the first syllable and can sometimes be spelled as the Yiddish mazltov or Yiddish מזל־טובֿ as the translation of mazel tov. In Hebrew, the stress is on the last syllable. You might hear this phrase said differently in different parts of the Jewish diaspora, from Israel to parts of the United States and North America and more. In Hebrew, this is written as מזל טוב.

There are many situations in which mazel tov is a logical response. If someone is the winner of a race, if you hear wonderful news, if you see a healthy baby has been born on Instagram, and more. It is a reflex for many to say this common phrase when something good happens to someone in times of joy. This is the correct response to many positive life events, as is good mazel. The Israeli pronunciation and correct spelling vary from region to region in a different locaiton. This positive saying is often said as a congratulatory phrase of encouragement in a time of celebration. This Yiddish expression is very common.

In Jewish mysticism, the word mazel describes the root of the soul, only  a ray of which actually inhabits our body. The main part of the mazel shines down on us from a distance, making us feel a sense of spontaneous intuition, or a sudden flash of inspiration that makes you see life in a new light. This is an extra flux of energy from our mazel. While idol worship has been erased from Jewish culture, Zodiac signs have been found in the mosaics of ancient synagogues in the Galilee along with the exegetical story in the Talmud.

Many Jewish people go to the synagogue or temple at the start of Shabbat on Friday which ends on Saturday night. The parents of children may say this traditional Hebrew phrase during potty training or learning to read. In opposition to the dominant culture, the types of things people may say mazel tov in a special way that may vary slightly from saying congratulations, according to Jewish sources, but congratulations is a good English equivalent and good substitute, though it is a little different in Jewish subculture. In a Jewish delicatessen, a wise guy may yell mazel tov when someone breaks a dish as a joke.   

Overall, this is a great way of greeting someone you wish to say congratulations to. It is a nice thing and a traditional thing to say if you are Jewish.

What are other Jewish and Yiddish terms?

According to Jew FAQ  and 18 Doors, the below are jewish terms you may hear.

  •  Shabbat Shalom (shah-BAHT shah-LOHM)
  •  Gut Shabbes (GUT SHAH-biss; gut rhymes with put)
  •  Shavua Tov (shah-VOO-ah TOHV)
  •  Gut Yuntuv
  •  Chag Sameach (KHAHG sah-MEHY-ahkh)
  •  Gut Yontiff (GUT YAHN-tiff; gut rhymes with put)
  •  Boker tov (good morning)
  •  L’Shanah Tovah (li-SHAH-nuh TOH-vuh; li-shah-NAH toh-VAH)
  •  Have an easy fast (Yom Kippur)
  •  Shalom (shah-LOHM)
  •  Shalom Aleikhem (shah-LOHM ah-ley-KHEM) or Sholem Aleikhem (SHOH-lehm ah-LEH-khem)
  •  Ha-Makom yinachem etchem (Shiva call)
  •  Yasher koach (YAH-shehyr KOH-ahkh)
  •  L’Chayim (li-KHAY-eem)
  •  Gesundheit (g’-SUND-hahyt)

Overall, the meaning of the word mazel tov means good luck. This is used on all sorts of happy occasions as an appropriate response. You might hear a chorus of mazel tovsat a Jewish wedding. In Jewish tradition, Jewish people in the Jewish community use mazel tov to express congratulations. This word is of semitic roots and the use of the phrase is common by people who practice Judaism. If someone tells you the common Jewish phrase mazel tov, it is a good sign! This may be pronounced differently in the Israeli-sounding ma-zal tov versus the Yiddishy ma-zel tov with an initial heavy H sound. 


  1. What does Mazal Tov mean? Read More | Vines of the Yarra Valley 
  2. What “Mazel Tov” Means | My Jewish Learning 
  3. Expressions and Greetings | Jew FAQ 
  4. How To Use Jewish Greetings: An Easy Cheat Sheet | 18 Doors