Definition of Hebrew in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈhēbro͞o/


1A member of an ancient people living in what is now Israel and Palestine and, according to biblical tradition, descended from the patriarch Jacob, grandson of Abraham. After the Exodus (circa 1300 bc) they established the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, and their scriptures and traditions form the basis of the Jewish religion.
Example sentences
  • By about 1000 B.C.E. the Hebrews had established the kingdom of Israel, which later split into two kingdoms, Judah and Israel.
  • Like their cousins back in England, these American Puritans strongly identified with both the historical traditions and customs of the ancient Hebrews of the Old Testament.
  • For example, the struggle of the ancient Hebrews against the wicked Pharaoh came to embody the struggle of the colonists against English tyranny.
1.1 old-fashioned and sometimes offensive term for Jew.
2The Semitic language of the Hebrews, in its ancient or modern form.
Example sentences
  • In this period, Hebrew was spoken, and Hebrew is a Semitic language, just like Arabic.
  • Arabic is a Semitic language related to Hebrew and Aramaic.
  • Another example of a resuscitated language is modern Hebrew.


1Of the Hebrews or the Jews.
Example sentences
  • But the writers aren't merely parroting what they learned in Hebrew school - they're analyzing it as a parable of corporate politics as well as piety.
  • This movie scene shows sacred rites and chants corresponding accurately to the mystical Hebrew folklore of 16th-century Prague.
  • And on Sunday we celebrated Lucy's Hebrew naming ceremony.
2Of or in Hebrew.
Example sentences
  • Yesterday the front entrance to the Paradise Hotel was blocked off by yellow tape with Hebrew lettering.
  • And it's just a song of all the Hebrew names of God.
  • Each new title of his sells in excess of 50,000 copies in the Hebrew editions alone, ahead of being translated into more than a dozen other languages, including Arabic.

Hebrew is written from right to left in a characteristic alphabet of twenty-two consonants, the vowels sometimes being marked by additional signs. From about ad 500 it was almost entirely restricted to Jewish religious use, but it was revived as a spoken language in the 19th century and, with a vocabulary extended by borrowing from contemporary languages, is now the official language of the state of Israel


From Old French Ebreu, via Latin from late Greek Hebraios, from Aramaic ῾iḇray, based on Hebrew ῾iḇrî understood to mean 'one from the other side (of the river)'.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: He·brew

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