bar mitzvah

or bar miz·vah

[bahr mits-vuh or, Ashkenazic Hebrew bahr; Sephardic Hebrew bahr meets-vah]Judaism.

noun (often initial capital letters)

a solemn ceremony held in the synagogue, usually on Saturday morning, to admit as an adult member of the Jewish community a Jewish boy 13 years old who has successfully completed a prescribed course of study in Judaism.
the boy participating in this ceremony.

verb (used with object)

to administer the ceremony of bar mitzvah to: Our son was bar mitzvahed at the family synagogue.

Compare bat mitzvah.

Origin of bar mitzvah

1860–65; < Biblical Aramaic bar son + Hebrew miṣwāh divine law, commandment
Can be confusedbar mitzvah bas mitzvah bat mitzvah Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for bar mitzvah

Historical Examples of bar mitzvah

  • It was shortly after my confirmation,—I mean my—my Bar-Mitzvah.

  • Still, at any cost, he had determined not to miss so important an event as his nephew's bar-mitzvah.

    Rabbi and Priest

    Milton Goldsmith

  • If it please God, you will be 'Bar-Mitzvah' in three years—may you live to a hundred and twenty.

    Jewish Children

    Sholem Naumovich Rabinovich

  • But it was not till he was on the point of Bar-Mitzvah (confirmation at thirteen) that the blow fell.

    Ghetto Tragedies

    Israel Zangwill

British Dictionary definitions for bar mitzvah

Bar Mitzvah


(of a Jewish boy) having assumed full religious obligations, being at least thirteen years of age


the occasion, ceremony, or celebration of that event
the boy himself on that day

Word Origin for Bar Mitzvah

Hebrew: son of the law
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

Word Origin and History for bar mitzvah

Bar Mitzvah

1861, in Judaism, "male person who has completed his 13th year and thus reached the age of religious responsibility," from Hebrew, literally "son of command." As a name for the ceremony itself, by 1941.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

bar mitzvah in Culture

bar mitzvah

[(bahr mits-vuh)]

An important ceremony and social event in Judaism marking the beginning of religious responsibility for Jewish boys of thirteen. Bar mitzvah is Hebrew for “son of the commandment.”

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.