Yom Kippur

[ yawm kip-er, yohm, yom; Sephardic Hebrew yawmkee-poor; Ashkenazic Hebrew yohm ki-puhr ]
/ yɔm ˈkɪp ər, yoʊm, yɒm; Sephardic Hebrew ˈyɔm kiˈpur; Ashkenazic Hebrew yoʊm ˈkɪ pər /
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noun Judaism.
a Jewish high holy day observed on the 10th day of the month of Tishri by abstinence from food and drink and by the daylong recitation of prayers of repentance in the synagogue.
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Also called Day of A·tone·ment [deyuhvuh-tohn-muhnt] /ˈdeɪ əv əˈtoʊn mənt/ .

Origin of Yom Kippur

From Hebrew, equivalent to yōm “day” + kippūr “atonement”

Words nearby Yom Kippur

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What is Yom Kippur?

Yom Kippur is a Jewish holiday devoted to atoning for sins. It’s considered the holiest day of the year in Judaism.

Yom Kippur is also called the Day of Atonement. Observation of Yom Kippur is marked by fasting and prayers of repentance during a daylong service in the synagogue.

It is the culmination of a 10-day period of penitence that starts with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. This period is referred to as the High Holidays or the Days of Awe.

When is Yom Kippur?

Yom Kippur is observed each year on the 10th day of Tishri, the first month of the Jewish calendar. Because the Jewish calendar is a lunisolar calendar, the specific date on which Yom Kippur falls changes each year.

In 2022, Yom Kippur begins on the evening of October 4 and is observed until sundown on October 5.

In 2023, Yom Kippur begins on the evening of September 24 and is observed until sundown on September 25.

More information and context on Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur is also known as the Day of Atonement because that’s what it literally means. Its name comes from the Hebrew words yōm, meaning “day,” and kippūr, meaning “atonement.”

According to Jewish tradition, the period that begins with Rosh Hashanah and ends with Yom Kippur is when God renders judgment, so many Jews use the time to pray and make amends (atone) for the wrongs they have committed.

Yom Kippur is believed to originate with the story of God presenting Moses with the Ten Commandments, the first of which prohibits worshiping other gods. When Moses returned with the stone tablets that contained the commandments, he found the Israelites worshipping an idol in the form of a golden calf. Moses smashed the tablets in anger, but the Israelites atoned, and God forgave them and provided new tablets.

What are some terms that often get used in discussing Yom Kippur?

How is Yom Kippur used in real life?

In Judaism, Yom Kippur is considered the most important and holiest day of the year. Many Jews spend the day in the synagogue reciting prayers of repentance.


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Yom Kippur is considered one of the Jewish High Holidays.

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British Dictionary definitions for Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur
/ (jɒm ˈkɪpə, Hebrew jɔm kiˈpur) /

an annual Jewish holiday celebrated on Tishri 10 as a day of fasting, on which prayers of penitence are recited in the synagogue throughout the dayAlso called: Day of Atonement

Word Origin for Yom Kippur

from Hebrew, from yōm day + kippūr atonement
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 Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur
[ (yohm ki-poor, yom kup-uhr) ]

In Judaism, the Day of Atonement, the most important religious holiday; a day of fasting to atone for sins. It comes in autumn. (See Rosh Hashanah.)

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.