[ iz-ree-uhl, -rey- ]
/ ˈɪz ri əl, -reɪ- /
Save This Word!

a republic in southwest Asia, on the Mediterranean: formed as a Jewish state May 1948. 7,984 sq. mi. (20,679 sq. km). Capital: Jerusalem (but not recognized by the international community).
the people traditionally descended from Jacob; the Hebrew or Jewish people.
a name given to Jacob after he had wrestled with an angel. Genesis 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.
Smoothly step over to these common grammar mistakes that trip many people up. Good luck!
Question 1 of 7
Fill in the blank: I can’t figure out _____ gave me this gift.

Origin of Israel

First recorded before 1000; Middle English, Old English, from Latin Isrāēl, from Greek Isrāḗl, from Hebrew Yisrā'ēl literally, “God perseveres”


pro-Is·ra·el, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use Israel in a sentence

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

Cultural definitions for Israel (1 of 2)


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.”)

Cultural definitions for Israel (2 of 2)


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 (see also Egypt) to the southwest, and the Mediterranean Sea to the west. Its capital and largest city is Jerusalem (see also Jerusalem).

notes for Israel

The state of Israel, a homeland for Jews (see also 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).

notes for Israel

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.

notes for Israel

The United States has been Israel's major supporter, but Israeli settlements on the West Bank strained U.S.-Israel relations.

notes for Israel

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 Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.