Definition of sabbath in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈsabəTH/


1 (often the Sabbath) A day of religious observance and abstinence from work, kept by Jews from Friday evening to Saturday evening, and by most Christians on Sunday.
Example sentences
  • So far, most of the discussion of Lieberman's Jewishness has focused on a particular religious practice: sabbath observance.
  • The command to keep the Jewish Sabbath could then be taken metaphorically to refer to any day of rest, and because of the history and customs of this country, that day is Sunday, the Christian sabbath.
  • Nor are the sabbath candles in a Jewish household lit by a rabbi - unless she happens to be the leader of a synagogue that ordains women.
2 (also witches' sabbath) A supposed annual midnight meeting of witches with the Devil.
Example sentences
  • It shows a young musician who, in a series of opium-induced dreams, pursues his unattainable Beloved or idée fixe through a ballroom, an idyllic landscape, a prison, and a witches' sabbath where she appears hideously transformed.
  • He produced some altarpieces, but his main speciality was in small cabinet pictures with historical, mythological, or allegorical themes as well as genre and fantastical scenes, such as the witches' sabbath.
  • Medieval witchcraft was not a rebellion against orthodoxy so much as a continuation of heathen impulses (the witches' sabbath resembled Dionysian revels).


Old English, from Latin sabbatum, via Greek from Hebrew šabbāṯ, from šāḇaṯ 'to rest'.

  • The sabbath is the day of rest—Saturday for Jews, Sunday for Christians. The Hebrew word sabat, ‘to rest’, is the ultimate source. The Law of Moses dictated that every seventh year should be observed as a ‘sabbath’, during which the land lay fallow. In the late 19th century US universities extended the idea of this sabbatical year to give professors and other academic staff every seventh year free to research or travel. Nowadays a sabbatical may come at other intervals of time, and members of other occupations also use the term for paid leave for professional development.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: sab·bath

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