[iz-ree-uh-lahyt, -rey-]
  1. a descendant of Jacob, especially a member of the Hebrew people who inhabited the ancient kingdom of Israel.
  2. one of a group considered by its members or by others as God's chosen people.
  1. of or relating to ancient Israel or its people; Hebrew.

Origin of Israelite

Middle English word dating back to 1350–1400; see origin at Israel, -ite1
Related formsnon-Is·ra·el·ite, nounpre-Is·ra·el·ite, adjective, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for israelites


  1. Bible a member of the ethnic group claiming descent from Jacob; a Hebrew
  2. Bible a citizen of the kingdom of Israel (922 to 721 bc) as opposed to Judah
  3. a member of any of various Christian sects who regard themselves as God's chosen people
  4. an archaic and sometimes offensive word for a Jew
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 israelites



late 14c., from Latin israelita, from Greek Israelites, from Israel (see Israel).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

israelites in Culture


The descendants of Jacob, who made up twelve tribes, including the tribes of Judah, Levi, Reuben, and Benjamin.

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.