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Word Study: Joy Part 1 Definitions

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”
Psalm 119:105

Most of my research was done on the Internet through Crosswalk Bible Study Tools. What a wealth of information on this site! In the past, I’ve done my research the “long and hard way” with my trusty King James and Strong’s Concordance. Nothing compares to that method and I find that I still get up to check the source when I want to go deeper into a word study. The Internet is great, but it still is a summary approach. I hope that as we open the Word and study the word, that the Holy Spirit will reveal the essence of JOY! in your Christian walk.

I am not going to apologize for the length of this page. Studying the Bible or doing word studies is like a treasure hunt for me. There is SO much that can be gained from really searching out the meaning of a word. Looking up the synonyms and antonyms, understanding what the root word means, finding the primary root in Hebrew and Greek can bring such a depth of understanding to what the Holy Spirit means in a Bible verse. And I’ll let you in on a secret. If you study a word, you usually “get it.” That’s a challenge, dear reader…

Quite surprisingly, there are 15 different Hebrew words and 8 Greek words to describe joy which is used both as a noun and as a verb. To me this relates to the fact that JOY constitutes something that it tangible as well as intangible. A complete search for the word joy came up with 172 verses (NASB) and 155 (KJV). Wow! There certainly is a lot of JOY! in the Bible!

Editor’s Note: There is SO much to share, that I have split the studies into three web pages. This page helps us understand the definitions of joy. When you’re ready, continue reading in Part 2 the study of the Old Testament and Part 3 the study of the New Testament for scripture verses and more!

Old Testament Hebrew Definitions

  • giyl, verb, used 44 times: to rejoice, exult, be glad (to rejoice, to tremble)
  • giyl, noun, used 10 times: 1. a rejoicing; 2. a circle, age
  • giylah, noun, used 2 times: rejoicing
  • duwts, verb, used 1 time: to leap, dance, spring
  • chedvah, noun, used 2 times: 1. joy, gladness
  • chedvah, joy, used 1 time: joy
  • masows, noun, used 17 times: exultation, joy, rejoicing
  • rinnah, noun, used 33 times: ringing cry a) of entreaty, supplication; b) in proclamation, joy, praise
  • ranan, verb, used 52 times: 1. to overcome a) to be overcome; 2. to cry out, shout for joy, give a ringing cry a) to give a ringing cry (in joy, exaltation, distress), to cry aloud (in summons, exhortation of wisdom); b) to give a ringing cry (in joy, exultation, praise); c) ringing cry, singing out; d) to cause to ring or sing out (for joy); e) rejoicing
  • rannen, verb, used 2 times: cry, shout
  • suws, verb, used 27 times: to exult, rejoice a) to exult, display joy
  • samach, verb, used 152 times: to rejoice, be glad a) to rejoice (arrogantly), exult (at), to rejoice (religiously); b) to cause to rejoice, gladden, make glad
  • simchach, verb, used 94 times: joy, mirth, gladness a) mirth, gladness, joy, gaiety, pleasure; b) joy (of God); c) glad result, happy issue
  • sasown, noun, used 22 times: gladness, joy, exultation, rejoicing a) exultation, joy
  • têruwah, noun, used 36 times: alarm, signal, sound of tempest, shout, shout or blast of war or alarm or joy a) alarm of war, war-cry, battle-cry b) blast (for march), shout of joy (with religious impulse), d) shout of joy (general)

New Testament Greek Definitions

  • agalliasis, noun, used 5 times: exultation, extreme joy, gladness
  • euphrosune, noun, used 2 times: good cheer, joy, gladness
  • kauchaomai, verb, used 38 times: 1. to glory (whether with reason or without); 2. to glory on account of a thing; 3. to glory in a thing
  • oninemi, verb, used 1 time: 1. to be useful, to profit, help; 2. to receive profit or advantage, be helped (or have joy)
  • skirtao, verb, used 3 times: to leap
  • chairo, verb, used 74 times: 1. to rejoice, be glad; 2. to rejoice, exceedingly; 3. to be well, thrive; 4. in salutations, hail!; 5. at the beginning of letters: to give one greeting, salute
  • chara, noun, used 59 times: 1. joy, gladness a) the joy received from you; 2) the cause or occasion of joy (of persons who are one’s joy)

Random House Dictionary Definitions – Noun

  • The emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation.
  • A source or cause of keen pleasure or delight; something or someone greatly valued or appreciated
  • The expression or display of glad feelings; festive gaiety
  • A state of happiness or felicity.

Random House Dictionary Definitions – Verb

  • To feel joy; be glad; rejoice
  • To gladden
    From Latin word, gaudium, to be glad
    Syn. 1. rapture, 4. bliss (See pleasure)  |  Ant. 1. misery, unhappiness, sorrow, grief

Further Study on 1st Definition of JOY!
(The emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elating)

  • emotion – an affective state of consciousness in which joy, sorrow, fear, hate, or the like, is experienced, as distinguished from cognitive and volitional states of consciousness – a feeling. From Latin word, emovere, move, motion. Syn. a feeling. Feeling, emotion, passion, sentiment refer to pleasurable or painful sensations experienced when one is stirred to sympathy, anger, fear love, grief, etc. Feeling is a general term for a subjective point of view as well as for specific sensation. (ex. to be guided by feeling rather than facts.) Emotion is applied to an intensified feeling. Passion is strong or violent emotion, often so overpowering that it masters the mind or judgment. Sentiment is a mixture of thought and feeling, esp. refined or tender feeling. Other Syn. sympathy, empathy, tenderness, sensitivity, sentiment, emotional, tender, impassioned, passionate. Ant. apathy, cold
  • delight – 1. a high degree of pleasure or enjoyment; joy, rapture; 2. something that gives great pleasure; 3. to give great pleasure, satisfaction or enjoyment to; please highly; 4. to have great pleasure; take pleasure. Syn. 1. transport, delectation See pleasure; 3. charm, enrapture. Ant. 1. distress; 2. disappointment
  • happiness – 1. the quality or state of being happy; 2. good fortune; pleasure; contentment; joy.
    Syn. pleasure, joy, exhilaration, bliss, contentedness, delight, enjoyment, satisfaction. Ant. misery
  • keen pleasure – 1. finely sharpened, as an edge; so shaped as to cut, or pierce substances readily, 2. sharp, piercing, or biting, 3. characterized by strength or distinctness of perception; extremely sensitive or responsive, 4. having or showing great mental penetration or acumen, 5. animated by or showing strong feeling or desire, 6. intense, as feeling or desire, 7. eager; interested; enthusiastic, 8. great; wonderful; marvelous
    From Old Norse, koenn, wise, skillful
    Syn: 1. sharp; 2. cutting, bitter, caustic; 3. piercing, penetrating, clever; 4. acute, astute, sagacious, shrewd, clever; 5. avid; 7. earnest, fervid.
    [Interesting note: the other meaning of keen: a wailing lament for the dead. Just the opposite for joyful living!]
  • pleasure – 1. the state or feeling of being pleased, 2. enjoyment or satisfaction from what is to one’s liking; gratification, delight, 3. worldly or frivolous enjoyment, 4. recreation or amusement; diversion, enjoyment, 5. sensual gratification, 6. a cause or source of enjoyment or delight, 7. pleasurable quality, 8. one’s will, desire, or choice, 9. to give pleasure, to gratify, please
    Syn. happiness, gladness, delectation.

Pleasure, Enjoyment, Delight, Joy refer to the feeling of being pleased and happy. Pleasure is the general term. Enjoyment is a quiet sense of well-being and pleasurable satisfaction [like contentment]. Delight is a high degree of pleasure, usually leading to active expression of it. Joy is a feeling of delight so deep and so lasting that one radiates happiness and expresses it spontaneously. [Can you believe it? This was from a secular dictionary! Does this express our relationship with our Savior or what!!!]
elation/elate – to make very happy or proud. From Latin, elatus, carried away, lifted up; equivalent to carry, lift. Elated: very happy or proud; jubilant; in high spirits; Elation: a feeling or state of great joy or pride; exultant gladness; high spirits.

Further Study on 2nd Definition of JOY!
(A source or cause of keen pleasure or delight; something or someone greatly valued or appreciated)

  • Source (or cause) – 1. any thing or place from which something comes, arises, or is obtained; origin, 2. the beginning or place of origin of a stream or river, 3. a book, statement. person etc. supplying information, 4. the person or business making interest or dividend payments, 5. the manufacturer or supplier, 6. a natural spring or fountain
    From Latin, surgere, to spring up or forth Syn. 1. supplier, originator; 3. authority, reference
  • Greatly valued – 1. highly regarded or esteemed; 2. estimated. appraised; 3. having value of a specified kind
  • Value – 1. relative worth, merit, or importance, 2. monetary or material worth as in commerce or trade, 3. the worth of something in terms of the amount of other things for which it can be exchanged or in terms of some medium of exchange, 4. import or meaning; force; significance, 5. liking or affection; favorable regard, 6. ethics – any object or quality desirable as a means or as an end in itself, 7. fine arts – a degree of lightness or darkness in a color; the relation of light and shade in a painting, drawing, or the like [Note: The degree we seek to be like Him, we will be.]
  • Appreciated – 1. to be grateful or thankful for; 2. to value or regard highly; place a high estimate on; 3. to be fully conscious of; be aware of ; detect; 4. to raise in value; 5. to increase in value. Appreciate, Esteem, Prize, Value imply holding something in high regard. To appreciate is to exercise wise judgment, delicate, perception, and keen insight in realizing the worth of something. To esteem is to feel respect combined with a warm, kindly feeling. To value is to attach importance to a thing because of its worth (material or otherwise). To prize is to value highly and cherish.

Further Study on 3rd Definition of JOY!
(the expression or display of glad feelings; festive gaiety)

  • Expression – the act of expressing or setting forth in words, joy beyond expression, the power of expressing beyond words, indication of feeling, spirit, character etc, as on the face, in the voice, or in artistic expression, the act of expressing or pressing out.
    Syn: utterance, declaration, assertion, statement, manifestation, sign. From Latin, expressio, a pressing out. [WOW}
  • Express 1. to put thought into words, utter or state, 2. to show, manifest, or reveal, 3. to set forth the opinions, feelings, etc. of oneself as in speaking, writing, or painting, 4. to represent by a symbol, character, figure, or formula, 5. to press or squeeze out (like grapes), 6. to exude or emit (a liquid, odor, etc.) as if under pressure
    Syn. 1.declare, word, formulate; 2. indicate; 4. designate, signify, denote. Ant. conceal
  • glad feeling 1. feeling joy or pleasure; delighted; pleased, 2. accompanied by or causing joy or pleasure, 3. characterized by or showing cheerfulness, joy or pleasure as looks or utterances, 4. very willing
    From Latin, glaber, smooth [hmmm — no rough edges?]
    Syn, 1. elated, gratified, contented; 3. merry, joyous, joyful, cheerful, happy, cheery. Ant. sad
  • festive – 1. pertaining to or suitable for a feast or festival; 2. joyous, merry.
    From Latin, festal, a festival atmosphere of unrestrained joy
  • gaiety – 1. the state of being gay or cheerful; gay spirits; 2. gaieties – merrymaking or festivity.
    Syn. merriment, mirth, glee, jollity, joyousness, liveliness, sportiveness, vivacity, cheerfulness, joviality. Ant. sadness

Further Study on 4th Definition of JOY!
(a state of happiness or felicity)

  • happiness (see above)
  • felicity 1. the state of being happy, esp. in a high degree, bliss, 2. an instance of this, 3. a source of happiness, 4. a skillful faculty, 5. an instance or display of this, 6. good fortune
    Syn. fortune From Latin, felix, happy
  • rejoice – 1. to be glad; take delight; 21. to make joyful; gladden. Syn. revel, gladden. From old French, revel, re-joy.
    Syn, revel, exult, glory
  • revel – 1. to take great pleasure or delight; 2. to make merry; indulge in boisterous festivities.
    Old French, to raise tumult, make merry. From Latin, rebellare, to rebel
  • exult – 1. to show or feel a lively or triumphant joy; rejoice exceedingly, be highly elated or jubilant; 2. to leap, esp. for joy.
    From Latin, exultare, to leap up. Syn. delight, glory, revel
  • glory – 1. very great praise, honor or distinction bestowed by common consent, renown, 2. something that is a source of honor, fame, or admiration, a distinguished ornament or an object of pride, 3. adoring praise or worshipful thankfulness (Give glory to God) — that was in the dictionary!, 4. a state of great splendor, magnificence, or prosperity […as my soul prospers], 4. a state of absolute happiness, gratification, contentment, 5. the splendor and bliss of heaven; heaven, 6. a ring, circle, or surrounding radiance of light represented about the head of the whole figure of a sacred person, as Christ, or a saint, halo, nimbus or aureole, 7. anticorona, a luminous edging around the shadow of an observer or the point where his/her shadow would fall as thrown by the sun upon a cloud or fog bank, 8. Glory be to God – used to express surprise, elation, wonder

Summary Thoughts…

Wasn’t that a delight (JOY!) to learn about the meanings of JOY!? I can easily see how the heart of the worshiper is one full of joy. (Most of the scripture verses on the next page are from the Psalms.) When the Lord is present in our lives, His joy brings us great joy and with grateful hearts, our thanks is expressed in praise, singing, shouting, leaping, dancing, and playing instruments. To me, JOY! is the essential ingredient of music. And I’ll let you in on a secret, I “en”joy and enter into His Presence (Joy) with glee. I play the tambourine. I can play it softly or I can play it loudly. But when I shake it in time with the music, my toes tap and my whole body moves with the rhythm of the beat. I sing with gusto as I offer up a sacrifice of praise. And when the songs are finished and I sit down, I still feel the love I have for my Lord in body, soul, and spirit… refreshed, renewed, and ready to hear a great sermon!

Joy! Part 2 Old Testament  |  Joy! Part 3 New Testament