1. a member of the Semitic peoples inhabiting ancient Palestine and claiming descent from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; an Israelite.
  2. a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic family, the language of the ancient Hebrews, which, although not in a vernacular use from 100 b.c. to the 20th century, was retained as the scholarly and liturgical language of Jews and is now the national language of Israel. Abbreviation: Heb
  1. Hebraic.
  2. noting or pertaining to the script developed from the Aramaic and early Hebraic alphabets, used since about the 3rd century b.c. for the writing of Hebrew, and later for Yiddish, Ladino, and other languages.

Origin of Hebrew

before 1000; Middle English Hebreu, variant (with H- < Latin) of Ebreu < Old French < Medieval Latin Ebrēus for Latin Hebraeus < Late Greek Hebraîos < Aramaic ʿIbhraij; replacing Old English Ebrēas (plural) < Medieval Latin Ebrēī
Related formsnon-He·brew, noun, adjectivepre-He·brew, adjective, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for hebrews

Historical Examples of hebrews

  • His name was Joseph and he belonged to the tribe of the Hebrews.

    Ancient Man

    Hendrik Willem van Loon

  • There is much obscurity about the beginnings of the laws of the Hebrews.

  • The God of the Hebrews declared them to be his chosen people.

  • They severely forbid the Hebrews to consult such persons and things.

    The Phantom World

    Augustin Calmet

  • The Hebrews are rising out of this stage when we first see them.

    History of Religion

    Allan Menzies

British Dictionary definitions for hebrews


  1. (functioning as singular) a book of the New Testament


  1. the ancient language of the Hebrews, revived as the official language of Israel. It belongs to the Canaanitic branch of the Semitic subfamily of the Afro-Asiatic family of languages
  2. a member of an ancient Semitic people claiming descent from Abraham; an Israelite
  3. archaic, or offensive a Jew
  1. of or relating to the Hebrews or their language
  2. archaic, or offensive Jewish

Word Origin for Hebrew

C13: from Old French Ebreu, from Latin Hebraeus, from Greek Hebraios, from Aramaic `ibhray, from Hebrew `ibhrī one from beyond (the river)
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 hebrews



late Old English, from Old French Ebreu, from Latin Hebraeus, from Greek Hebraios, from Aramaic 'ebhrai, corresponding to Hebrew 'ibhri "an Israelite," literally "one from the other side," in reference to the River Euphrates, or perhaps simply signifying "immigrant;" from 'ebher "region on the other or opposite side." The noun is c.1200, "the Hebrew language;" late 14c. of persons, originally "a biblical Jew, Israelite."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

hebrews in Culture


The descendants of Abraham and Isaac, especially the descendants of Isaac's son Jacob; the Israelites.


The language of the Hebrews, in which the Old Testament was written. It is the language of the modern state of Israel.

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.