Beta Israel


: a people of highland Ethiopia who practice a variety of Judaism

Note: The Beta Israel are also referred to as Falasha, a term that continues in widespread use but is considered to be offensive.

Word History


borrowed from Hebrew bēyṯeʼ yiśrāʼēl (Geez betä ʼəsrāʼel), literally, "house of Israel"

First Known Use

1919, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of Beta Israel was in 1919

Dictionary Entries Near Beta Israel

Cite this Entry

“Beta Israel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Feb. 2024.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!