The English designation Ecclesiastes is derived from the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the OT. The Hebrew word behind the Greek is Qoheleth. This word appears seven times in this book (1:1, 2, 12; 7:27; 12:8, 9, 10) but nowhere else in the OT and is the title and/or name of the writer. Qoheleth is a feminine participle and comes from the Hebrew root QHL meaning to gather or to assemble. The object of this action is people, never things. Qoheleth is a title meaning “one who gathers people,” probably for the purpose of instruction. It is possible that Qoheleth should also be regarded as the writer's name. In Hebrew, as in other languages, function may determine a person's name. Consider such English surnames as Cook, Smith, and Fowler. In time the name and function may be separated.
If Qoheleth is a proper name, then it should be transliterated (jb). Generally efforts are made to translate it in the English versions: “Preacher” (KJV, RSV), “Speaker” (NEB), “Philosopher” (TEV), and “Teacher” (NIV). While “preacher” is the most common rendition, it is not the best. Since the intent of the book is sapiential rather than sermonic, “Teacher” is a better translation.