Difference Between Kippah and Yarmulke

Many civilizations and traditional customs call this world home. A wide range of customs and traditions can be found everywhere, from languages to culinary preferences, clothes to celebrations. People frequently display their cultural or religious values through one or more of the previously described characteristics. 

Clothes, like any other phenomenon, play an important role in cultural identification. They not only determine it, but they also aid in the preservation of the culture. Kippah and Yarmulke are two types of Jewish headgear worn to exhibit off and preserve their traditional traditions. Despite the fact that each of these caps is worn on the head, they are slightly different. 

Kippah vs Yarmulke 

The main difference between Kippah and Yarmulke is that the former is derived from the Hebrew language while the latter is derived from the Yiddish language. Both of these refer to a similar design of a cap which is worn over the head by many people who practice Judaism. However, the use of these caps is now limited only to orthodox religious people.  

Kippah vs Yarmulke

Taken from the Hebrew language, Kippah is a word that literally means ‘dome.’ In some other languages and areas, people refer to it as prison also because the prisons used to have domes in their roofs earlier in history. It is basically a cap worn by the Jews over their head. It can be made up of cloth, silk or wool, etc. The main purpose due to which Jews still wear it today is the fulfillment of their religious obligations. 

While on the other hand, Yarmulke refers to a similar variety of head-caps but gets categorized differently due to being taken from another language, Yiddish. This world originated from the Silvis language and meant ‘Cap.’ It is different from Kippah in terms of its origin and meaning. Two words join each other in order to produce Yarmulke, which is- Yarei Malka, meaning “fear of the king.”

Comparison Table Between Kippah and Yarmulke 

Parameters of Comparison Kippah  Yarmulke  
Meaning  This word literally refers to ‘dome’ in meaning. This word literally refers to ‘trepidation of the ruler’ in meaning. 
Origin  Originated from the Hebrew language. It originated from the Silvis language and further derived from the Yiddish language. 
Purpose  As per the religious texts and lectures, Jews are presumed to wear this cap to fulfill their obligation towards their religion. As their religion mandates it to cover their heads during all times.  No such specific purpose is mentioned anywhere. It is just a cultural showcase.  
Mostly Worn By Orthodox Jews community is mostly seen wearing this head cap. Ashkenazic community of the people professing Judaism is mostly seen wearing this cap. 
Another Name Kippot is another term used for this head cap. Yamalka or Yamalki are some of the common names used in place of Yarmulke. 

What is Kippah? 

In the Hebrew language, Kippah is a word referring to a dome. The reason it denotes this particular meaning is that it is a cap to be worn over the head, and it symbolizes the shape of a dome. In another language which is Talmud, it also means Prison. This is because the prisons back then used to have a shape of dome upon the building.  

Certain sections of the community of Jews were raised to believe that the head-caps were necessary to wear because the head was supposed to be covered due to religious obligations. While in the Talmud community, these caps are worn to show the dominance of God above the people who wear these caps. 

When multiples of Kippah caps are referred to, the word Kippot is used to convey the meaning. With the passage of time, these caps have seen multiple evolutions and upgrades.  

What is Yarmulke? 

Yarmulke is just another term referring to the Kippah caps only. The main difference between this particular cap and Kippah is that Yarmulke is the term denoting another linguistic concern. It originated from the Silvis language and further found its way through the Yiddish language. 

The Aramaic language has two primary words: Yarei Malka and Yarei Malka. It essentially indicated the king’s fury. This headgear was worn by the Ashkenazic group of persons who practiced Judaism on a daily basis. Yamalka or Yamalki are some of the more prevalent names for this Yarmulke cap. 

It used to be the ethnic clothing of those who professed their religion, but with time, this cap has evolved into a variety of colors and textures, including yarn, wool, and silk. 

Main Differences Between Kippah and Yarmulke 

  1. The key difference between the Kippah and the Yarmulke is that the former is derived from Hebrew, while the latter is derived from Yiddish. This linguistic distinction is a dividing line between the two.  
  2. Because it used to resemble a dome, the word Kippah literally means “dome of a building.” Yarmulke, on the other hand, denotes a ruler’s fear. It meant that people wore it to fulfill their responsibilities to the sovereign. 
  3. According to religious scriptures and lectures, Jews are expected to wear the Kippah cap to fulfill their religious obligations. Their religion requires that they cover their heads at all times. While on the other side, Yarmulke does not denote any such primary purpose. It is more of a demonstration of cultural values. 
  4. Orthodox Jews community is mostly noticed to wear Kippah, while Yarmulke is mostly found in the Ashkenazic community of the people professing Judaism.  
  5. Another name for Kippah is Kippot, while Yamalka or Yamalki are some of the common names used in place of Yarmulke. 
Difference Between Kippah and Yarmulke


For a variety of reasons, people wear various sorts of clothing and decorations. Some do it to fulfill religious commitments, while others do it to uphold cultural responsibilities. Judaism is a type of religion in which those who practice it adhere to a system of laws and regulations. Head-caps are one of the features of Judaism that can become a compulsion for Jews. 

Both the kippah and the yarmulke are two sides of the same coin. These two separate words show how the Jews all wear the same type of cap. The sole difference between these two is due to the linguistic adaption. The kippah is typically referred to by those who know Hebrew, but Yarmulke is mostly referred to by people who know Yiddish. 


  1. https://rai.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1467-9655.13130
  2. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00107530.2007.10745922
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