Sabbath

noun
Sab·​bath | \ ˈsa-bəth How to pronounce Sabbath (audio) \

Definition of Sabbath

1a : the seventh day of the week observed from Friday evening to Saturday evening as a day of rest and worship by Jews and some Christians
b : Sunday observed among Christians as a day of rest and worship
2 : a time of rest

The History of Sabbatical and Sabbath: Take a Break

We tend to think of sabbatical in academic terms, as a school year free from teaching duties that can be devoted to research, travel, and writing. Traditionally, this occurs every seventh year. Because of this scholarly context, we may easily miss what is hiding in plain sight: that sabbatical is related to Sabbath, which refers to the Biblical day of rest, or the seventh day. We trace the origins of both sabbatical and Sabbath to the Greek word sabbaton. Sabbaton itself traces to the Hebrew word shabbāth, meaning “rest.”

The Old Testament refers to God’s “day of rest” most famously in Genesis, but Sabbath referring to an entire year of rest is mentioned in Leviticus (25:3-5):

Six years thou shalt sow thy field, and six years thou shalt prune thy vineyard, and gather in the fruit thereof;

But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the LORD: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard.

That which groweth of its own accord of thy harvest thou shalt not reap, neither gather the grapes of thy vine undressed: for it is a year of rest unto the land.

Sabbatical is also used as an adjective to refer specifically to the rules governing the observance of the Sabbath, as in “sabbatical laws.”

First Known Use of Sabbath

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for Sabbath

Middle English sabat, from Anglo-French & Old English, from Latin sabbatum, from Greek sabbaton, from Hebrew shabbāth, literally, rest

Learn More About Sabbath

Time Traveler for Sabbath

Time Traveler

The first known use of Sabbath was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near Sabbath

Sabbatarianism

Sabbath

sabbatharian

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for Sabbath

Cite this Entry

“Sabbath.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Sabbath. Accessed 26 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for Sabbath

Sabbath

noun
Sab·​bath | \ ˈsa-bəth How to pronounce Sabbath (audio) \

Kids Definition of Sabbath

: a day of the week that is regularly observed as a day of rest and worship Jews observe the Sabbath from Friday evening to Saturday evening.

More from Merriam-Webster on Sabbath

Nglish: Translation of Sabbath for Spanish Speakers

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Which Word Does Not Belong?

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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