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[rab-ahy] /ˈræb aɪ/
noun, plural rabbis.
the chief religious official of a synagogue, trained usually in a theological seminary and duly ordained, who delivers the sermon at a religious service and performs ritualistic, pastoral, educational, and other functions in and related to his or her capacity as a spiritual leader of Judaism and the Jewish community.
Compare cantor (def 2).
a title of respect for a Jewish scholar or teacher.
a Jewish scholar qualified to rule on questions of Jewish law.
any of the Jewish scholars of the 1st to 6th centuries a.d. who contributed to the writing, editing, or compiling of the Talmud.
Slang. a personal patron or adviser, as in business.
Origin of rabbi1
1250-1300; Middle English rabi (< Old French rab(b)i) < Late Latin rabbī < Greek rhabbí < Hebrew rabbī my master (rabh master + my)
Can be confused


[rab-ee] /ˈræb i/
noun, Ecclesiastical.
rabat1 .
by alteration Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for rabbi
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • And let the sheikh and the priest and the rabbi embrace on that very Stump and make up.

    The Book of Khalid Ameen Rihani
  • Give her one child, and it shall be Thine—if it is a son, to be a rabbi in Thy synagogues.

    The Scapegoat Hall Caine
  • No one came near them—neither Moor nor Jew, neither rabbi nor elder.

    The Scapegoat Hall Caine
  • She was too innocent to see the trick, but the rabbi failed.

    The Scapegoat Hall Caine
  • Then, placing his foot upon the rabbi's neck, he cried: "Andate!"

British Dictionary definitions for rabbi


noun (pl) -bis
(in Orthodox Judaism) a man qualified in accordance with traditional religious law to expound, teach, and rule in accordance with this law
the religious leader of a congregation; the minister of a synagogue
the Rabbis, the early Jewish scholars whose teachings are recorded in the Talmud
See also Rav
Word Origin
Hebrew, from rabh master + my
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 rabbi

"Jewish doctor of religious law," late 15c. (in Old English in biblical context only; in Middle English also as a title prefixed to personal names), from Late Latin rabbi, from Greek rhabbi, from Mishnaic Hebrew rabbi "my master," from rabh "master, great one," title of respect for Jewish doctors of law + -i, first person singular pronominal suffix. From Semitic root r-b-b "to be great or numerous" (cf. robh "multitude;" Aramaic rabh "great; chief, master, teacher;" Arabic rabba "was great," rabb "master").

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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rabbi in Culture

rabbi definition

In Judaism, a teacher and leader of worship, usually associated with a synagogue.

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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Slang definitions & phrases for rabbi



An influential sponsor; a patron: I see you got the gold tin; who's your rabbi?

[1932+; the dated instance has to do with post-office workers]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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