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[iz-ree-uh l, -rey-] /ˈɪz ri əl, -reɪ-/
a republic in SW Asia, on the Mediterranean: formed as a Jewish state May 1948. 7984 sq. mi. (20,679 sq. km).
Capital: Jerusalem.
the people traditionally descended from Jacob; the Hebrew or Jewish people.
a name given to Jacob after he had wrestled with the angel. Gen. 32:28.
the northern kingdom of the Hebrews, including 10 of the 12 tribes, sometimes called by the name of the chief tribe, Ephraim.
Capital: Samaria.
a group considered by its members or by others as God's chosen people.
a male given name.
Origin of Israel
before 1000; Middle English, Old English < Latin Isrāēl < Greek Isrāḗl < Hebrew Yisrā'ēl literally, God perseveres
Related forms
pro-Israel, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for Israel


/ˈɪzreɪəl; -rɪəl/
a republic in SW Asia, on the Mediterranean Sea: established in 1948, in the former British mandate of Palestine, as a primarily Jewish state; 8 disputes with Arab neighbours (who did not recognize the state of Israel), erupted into full-scale wars in 1948, 1956, 1967 (the Six Day War), and 1973 (the Yom Kippur War). In 1993 Israel agreed to grant autonomous status to the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, according to the terms of a peace agreement with the PLO. Official languages: Hebrew and Arabic. Religion: Jewish majority, Muslim and Christian minorities. Currency: shekel. Capital: Jerusalem (international recognition withheld as East Jerusalem was annexed (1967) by Israel: UN recognized capital: Tel Aviv). Pop: 7 707 042 (2013 est). Area (including Golan Heights and East Jerusalem): 21 946 sq km (8473 sq miles)
  1. the ancient kingdom of the 12 Hebrew tribes at the SE end of the Mediterranean
  2. the kingdom in the N part of this region formed by the ten northern tribes of Israel in the 10th century bc and destroyed by the Assyrians in 721 bc
(informal) the Jewish community throughout the world
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for Israel

Old English, "the Jewish people," from Latin Israel, from Greek, from Hebrew yisra'el "he that striveth with God" (Gen. xxxii.28), symbolic proper name conferred on Jacob and extended to his descendants, from sara "he fought, contended" + El "God." As an independent Jewish state in the country formerly called Palestine, it is attested from 1948.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Israel in Culture

Israel definition

The name given to Jacob after he wrestled with God. Israel is also the name of the northern kingdom of the Israelites, when their nation was split in two after the death of King Solomon. (See under “World Geography.”)

Israel definition

Republic in the Middle East, formerly part of Palestine. Israel is bordered by Lebanon to the north, Syria and Jordan to the east, the Gulf of Aqaba (an arm of the Red Sea) to the south, Egypt to the southwest, and the Mediterranean Sea to the west. Its capital and largest city is Jerusalem.

Note: The state of Israel, a homeland for Jews worldwide, was proclaimed in 1948. Since then, conflict has arisen because of opposition by the surrounding Arab peoples to the formation of a Jewish state on what they consider Arab territory (see Arab-Israeli conflict).
Note: As a move toward permanent peace between Israel and the Arab states, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat met with U. S. President James Earl Carter in the United States and signed a peace treaty in 1979.
Note: The United States has been Israel's major supporter, but Israeli settlements on the West Bank strained U.S.-Israel relations.
Note: Periodic Palestinian intifadas against Israeli domination of the West Bank and Gaza Strip continue.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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