chal·​lah | \ ˈḵä-lə How to pronounce challah (audio) , ˈhä- How to pronounce challah (audio) \
variants: or less commonly challa or
plural challoth or challot\ ˈḵä-​ˌlōt How to pronounce challot (audio) , -​ˌlōth , -​ˌlōs , ˈhä-​ \ or challahs also challas\ ˈḵä-​ləz How to pronounce challas (audio) , ˈhä-​ \ or halloth or hallot\ ˈḵä-​ˌlōt How to pronounce hallot (audio) , -​ˌlōth , -​ˌlōs , ˈhä-​ \ or hallahs\ ˈḵä-​ləz How to pronounce hallahs (audio) , ˈhä-​ \

Definition of challah

: egg-rich yeast-leavened bread that is usually braided or twisted before baking and is traditionally eaten by Jews on the Sabbath and holidays

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Challah Comes From Yiddish

When English speakers first borrowed challah from Yiddish, they couldn't quite settle on a single spelling, so the word showed up in several forms; challah, challa, hallah, and the plural forms challoth, challot, halloth, and hallot were all common enough to merit inclusion in Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged when it was released in 1961. Today, challah and the anglicized plural challahs are the variants that are usually encountered by English speakers. The initial ch of challah is frequently pronounced as a velar fricative, like the ch in the German Buch or the Scottish English loch.

Examples of challah in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Just about every Friday, for Shabbat, my colleague Olga Massov makes challah. G. Daniela Galarza, Washington Post, "8 challah recipes, including braided loaves, marzipan-stuffed crowns and French toast," 16 Sep. 2020 Just as people the world over have begun baking sourdough bread during the pandemic, many Jews have started baking their own challah. Shira Hanau,, "With many synagogues off-limits, attention turns to home for High Holidays," 19 Aug. 2020 Choose chicken or brisket as the centerpiece that’s served with a potato pancake, vegetables and challah rolls. Georgann Yara, azcentral, "These 7 metro Phoenix restaurants have special menus for Hanukkah," 13 Dec. 2019 One family from the dibling group, which had chosen not to participate in the reunion, still drove by to drop off challah. New York Times, "Meet the Kids With 30 Half Siblings," 17 Apr. 2020 South Florida Jews joined others from around the world by participating in the seventh annual international Shabbat Project through various events including challah bakes. Sergio Carmona,, "Shabbat Project celebrated in South Florida with challah bakes," 22 Nov. 2019 Instead of ripping the challah bread with their hands, as is custom, Levey and his friends cut it with a knife and kept some distance from one another. Benjamin Oreskes, Los Angeles Times, "Amid the coronavirus, should young adults move back in with mom and dad? Many are saying yes," 11 Apr. 2020 But with tourism gone, and big corporate events and birthday parties canceled, the bakery has shifted more resources into bagels and challah bread for its online business. Jeanne Sahadi, CNN, "Small business owners need cash now. But they don't know when it will come," 8 Apr. 2020 Some New York synagogues are pre-slicing the challah bread, which is typically torn, to minimize touching. Sarah Maslin Nir, New York Times, "Purim Festivities Were Set, Costumes and All. Then Coronavirus Struck," 9 Mar. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'challah.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of challah

1907, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for challah

Yiddish khale, from Hebrew ḥallāh

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Time Traveler for challah

Time Traveler

The first known use of challah was in 1907

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Last Updated

30 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Challah.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Nov. 2020.

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