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See more synonyms for rabbi on Thesaurus.com
noun, plural rab·bis.
  1. the chief religious official of a synagogue, trained usually in a theological seminary and duly ordained, who delivers the sermon at a religious service and performs ritualistic, pastoral, educational, and other functions in and related to his or her capacity as a spiritual leader of Judaism and the Jewish community.Compare cantor(def 2).
  2. a title of respect for a Jewish scholar or teacher.
  3. a Jewish scholar qualified to rule on questions of Jewish law.
  4. any of the Jewish scholars of the 1st to 6th centuries a.d. who contributed to the writing, editing, or compiling of the Talmud.
  5. Slang. a personal patron or adviser, as in business.
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Origin of rabbi1

1250–1300; Middle English rabi (< Old French rab(b)i) < Late Latin rabbī < Greek rhabbí < Hebrew rabbī my master (rabh master + my)
Can be confusedclergy cleric imam minister pastor priest rabbi


noun Ecclesiastical.
  1. rabat1.
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Origin of rabbi2

by alteration
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for rabbi

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • And let the sheikh and the priest and the rabbi embrace on that very Stump and make up.

    The Book of Khalid

    Ameen Rihani

  • Give her one child, and it shall be Thine—if it is a son, to be a Rabbi in Thy synagogues.

    The Scapegoat

    Hall Caine

  • No one came near them—neither Moor nor Jew, neither Rabbi nor elder.

    The Scapegoat

    Hall Caine

  • She was too innocent to see the trick, but the Rabbi failed.

    The Scapegoat

    Hall Caine

  • But a Chacham (Rabbi), unappeased, raised a loud plaint of blasphemy.

British Dictionary definitions for rabbi


noun plural -bis
  1. (in Orthodox Judaism) a man qualified in accordance with traditional religious law to expound, teach, and rule in accordance with this law
  2. the religious leader of a congregation; the minister of a synagogue
  3. the Rabbis the early Jewish scholars whose teachings are recorded in the Talmud
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See also Rav

Word Origin

Hebrew, from rabh master + my
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 rabbi


"Jewish doctor of religious law," late 15c. (in Old English in biblical context only; in Middle English also as a title prefixed to personal names), from Late Latin rabbi, from Greek rhabbi, from Mishnaic Hebrew rabbi "my master," from rabh "master, great one," title of respect for Jewish doctors of law + -i, first person singular pronominal suffix. From Semitic root r-b-b "to be great or numerous" (cf. robh "multitude;" Aramaic rabh "great; chief, master, teacher;" Arabic rabba "was great," rabb "master").

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

rabbi in Culture


In Judaism, a teacher and leader of worship, usually associated with a synagogue.

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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.