shek·​el ˈshe-kəl How to pronounce shekel (audio)
variants or sheqel
plural shekels or shekalim she-ˈkä-lim How to pronounce shekel (audio) or shekelim shē-ˈkā-lim How to pronounce shekel (audio) or sheqalim she-ˈkä-lim How to pronounce shekel (audio)
: any of various ancient units of weight
especially : a Hebrew unit equal to about 252 grains troy
: a unit of value based on a shekel weight of gold or silver
: a coin weighing one shekel
shekels plural, informal : money
… making boxing history in the ring in New York, Chicago and wherever else fans … were willing to unburden themselves of substantial sums of shekels for the pleasure of seeing two guys vent their nastiness on each other.Pete Coutros
the basic monetary unit of Israel see Money Table

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web One wonders why the contribution was a half shekel and not a whole. Rabbi Avi Weiss,, 14 Feb. 2022 In fact, everyone contributed the same amount: a half shekel, no more, no less. Rabbi Avi Weiss,, 14 Feb. 2022 Once approved, more international investors will have the opportunity to benefit from the strong Israeli shekel as well as the dynamic and diverse tech industry. Carrie Rubinstein, Forbes, 25 Jan. 2022 The city received a cost of living score of 106, due in large part to the strength of the Israeli shekel against the U.S. dollar. Evie Carrick, Travel + Leisure, 7 Dec. 2021 In November of 2021, the shekel reached $0.32, its highest valuation against the US dollar in more than two decades. Camille Squires, Quartz, 2 Dec. 2021 Much of this is thanks to the appreciation of Israel’s currency, the shekel. Camille Squires, Quartz, 2 Dec. 2021 The soaring shekel and price increases for goods including groceries and transport were the main factors in Tel Aviv taking the top spot, according to the EIU. Alex Millson, Fortune, 1 Dec. 2021 Part of the reason for Tel Aviv’s rise to the top was the strength of its currency, the shekel, when translated into dollars, the report said. NBC News, 1 Dec. 2021 See More

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

Word History


Hebrew sheqel

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of shekel was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near shekel

Cite this Entry

“Shekel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


shek·​el ˈshek-əl How to pronounce shekel (audio)
: an ancient unit of weight or value
especially : a Hebrew unit equal to about 252 grains troy (about 16.3 grams)
: a coin weighing one shekel
: the basic unit of money of Israel

More from Merriam-Webster on shekel

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

The Great British Vocabulary Quiz

  • union jack speech bubble
  • Named after Sir Robert Peel, what are British police called?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can with using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

Can you make 12 words with 7 letters?