rab·​bi | \ ˈra-ˌbī How to pronounce rabbi (audio) \

Definition of rabbi

1 : master, teacher used by Jews as a term of address
2 : a Jew qualified to expound and apply the halacha and other Jewish law
3 : a Jew trained and ordained for professional religious leadership specifically : the official leader of a Jewish congregation

Examples of rabbi in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Zimmerman was Temple Emanu-El’s senior rabbi from 1985 to 1996 and returned to the North Dallas temple as a scholar in residence in 2017. Krista M. Torralva, Dallas News, "Dallas temple fires rabbi after ‘credible’ sexual misconduct allegations emerge," 6 May 2021 Several hundred thousand dance, sing and watch the late-night lighting of ceremonial bonfires on the anniversary of the rabbi’s death each spring, which falls on the Jewish festival of Lag b’Omer. New York Times, "Israel Had a Plan to Prevent Tragedy at Mount Meron. It Was Ignored.," 4 May 2021 Each year, tens of thousands of people, mostly ultra-Orthodox Jews, throng to the area to celebrate the rabbi and light bonfires as part of the celebrations. Saphora Smith, NBC News, "'A heavy disaster': More than 40 killed as stampede crushes attendees of religious festival in Israel," 30 Apr. 2021 The group, led by a disciple of the late racist rabbi Meir Kahane, is allied with elements of a far-right party elected to Israel’s parliament last month. BostonGlobe.com, "Jerusalem tension triggers Gaza-Israel fire exchange," 24 Apr. 2021 Rabbi Elie Abadie, who officiated, is originally from Lebanon and is now a senior resident rabbi in the UAE. James Freeman, WSJ, "The Peace of Trump," 6 Apr. 2021 When he is sworn in, Kariv will be the first Reform rabbi to ever serve in Knesset. Ben Sales, sun-sentinel.com, "Reform rabbi is first to serve in Israel’s Knesset," 25 Mar. 2021 Public schools run joint programs with the Anti-Defamation League to reach both students and faculty, said ADL regional director Peter Levi, who is a rabbi. Los Angeles Times, "From the KKK to skinheads, a century of fighting hate in Orange County," 21 Mar. 2021 But Kariv, who is both a rabbi and a lawyer, believes Israel's Zionist ideals include respect for human rights and the LGBT community, assisting African migrants who have made their way to Israel and protecting the environment. Laurie Kellman, Star Tribune, "Israeli voters poised to send first Reform rabbi to Knesset," 19 Mar. 2021

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

See More

First Known Use of rabbi

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

History and Etymology for rabbi

Middle English, from Old English, from Late Latin, from Greek rhabbi, from Hebrew rabbī my master, from rabh master + my

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about rabbi

Time Traveler for rabbi

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for rabbi

Last Updated

14 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Rabbi.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rabbi. Accessed 18 May. 2021.

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

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for rabbi



English Language Learners Definition of rabbi

: a person who is trained to make decisions about what is lawful in Judaism, to perform Jewish ceremonies, or to lead a Jewish congregation


rab·​bi | \ ˈra-ˌbī How to pronounce rabbi (audio) \
plural rabbis

Kids Definition of rabbi

: a person educated in Jewish law and able to lead a Jewish congregation

Comments on rabbi

What made you want to look up rabbi? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Words Used by Nabokov Quiz

  • image1676440788
  • Choose the best definition or synonym for the word in bold: "There are some eructations that sound like cheers—at least, mine did." Lolita
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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