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Adonai

[ Sephardic Hebrew ah-daw-nahy; Ashkenazic Hebrew ah-doh-noi ]
/ Sephardic Hebrew ˌɑ dɔˈnaɪ; Ashkenazic Hebrew ˌɑ doʊˈnɔɪ /
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noun
Hebrew. a title of reverence for God, serving also as a substitute pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton.
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Also A·do·noy [ah-doh-noi]. /ˌɑ doʊˈnɔɪ/.

Origin of Adonai

Literally, my Lord; spoken in place of the ineffable name Yahweh
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022

MORE ABOUT ADONAI

What does Adonai mean?

Adonai is one of the Hebrew names used for Judeo-Christian God.

In Judaism and the other religions descending from Abraham, the universe was created by a single being commonly known in English as God. In the Hebrew and Christian Bibles, God’s name is written as an unpronounceable series of consonants known as the Tetragrammaton that read as YHWH or JHVH. Because they can’t or won’t say the Tetragrammaton, speakers and writers use different names for God. Adonai is one of these names that appears frequently in the Tanach, the Hebrew Bible.

Adonai appears repeatedly as a name for God in the Tanach, which is written in Hebrew. Many English translations of the Christian Bible use the word Lord instead.

Why is Adonai important?

Adonai is the plural of the Hebrew word Adon, which means “lord” or “master.” It was first used as God’s title before it was used as God’s name. The plural and capitalized Adonai is used because, according to beliefs, God is the lord of all humanity and thus is the “lord of all lords.”

The reason Adonai and similar names, such as Elohim, are used instead of attempting to say the Tetragrammaton is the belief that people are unworthy of saying or are forbidden from saying God’s actual name. So believers use other names or titles instead.

Adonai is still used in modern Hebrew reprintings of the Tanach. Because of this, Adonai is a common name for God among Jews, particularly when speaking Hebrew or quoting the Tanach. Christians will sometimes also use Adonai in reference to God, especially when quoting the Old Testament, which contains many of the same books as the Tanach.

Did you know … ?

Other common names for God include Jehovah and Yahweh, which are used in popular English translations of the Bible. Jehovah and Yahweh are thought to come from combining the consonants in JHVH or YHWH and the vowels in Adonai and Elohim.

What are real-life examples of Adonai?

In this version of Psalm 104, sung in Hebrew, Adonai is used as the name for God twice in the first four verses:

Adonai is one of the names used for God, especially used by followers of Judaism:

 

What other words are related to Adonai?

Quiz yourself!

True or False?

Adonai is used in Judaism to refer to God to avoid using God’s true name.

How to use Adonai in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for Adonai

Adonai
/ (ˌædɒˈnaɪ, -ˈneɪaɪ) /

noun
Judaism a name for God

Word Origin for Adonai

C15: from Hebrew: lord; compare Adonis
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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