sho·​far ˈshō-ˌfär How to pronounce shofar (audio)
plural shofroth shō-ˈfrōt How to pronounce shofar (audio)
: the horn of a ruminant animal and usually a ram blown as a trumpet by the ancient Hebrews in battle and during religious observances and used in modern Judaism especially during Rosh Hashanah and at the end of Yom Kippur

Illustration of shofar

Illustration of shofar

Did you know?

One of the shofar's original uses was to proclaim the Jubilee year (a year of emancipation of Hebrew slaves and restoration of alienated lands to their former owners). Today, it is mainly used in synagogues during the High Holy Days. It is blown daily, except on Shabbat, during the month of Elul (the 12th month of the civil year or the 6th month of the ecclesiastical year in the Jewish calendar), and is sounded a number of times during the Rosh Hashanah services, and again at the end of the last service (known as neilah) on Yom Kippur. The custom is to sound the shofar in several series that alternate shorter notes resembling sobbing and wailing with longer unbroken blasts.

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web During Rosh Hashanah, when the shofar – the ram’s horn – had to be blown to inaugurate the new year, no one knew what sound to produce. Peter Rubin, Longreads, 27 Apr. 2022 One adjunct tap danced; another blew a shofar; a third had a union sign pinned to their baby’s pram. Alissa Quart, The New Republic, 29 Nov. 2022 And so those who hear the shofar or the Book of Esther through a hearing aid are considered to be actually hearing. Rabbi Avi Weiss, Sun Sentinel, 3 Oct. 2022 The shofar is sounded ceremonially to conclude Yom Kippur, Kranjec said. Marina Pitofsky, USA TODAY, 1 Oct. 2022 Yosef Wolvovsky, rabbi of The Chabad Jewish Center in Glastonbury, has been blowing the shofar for several days throughout the Hartford area to herald the coming of Rosh Hashanah, which ushers in the year 5783 on the Jewish calendar. Susan Dunne, Hartford Courant, 24 Sep. 2022 In many synagogues, there will be a blowing of a ram’s horn, or shofar, today to signal the new year. Greg Garrison |, al, 25 Sep. 2022 Rosh Hashana is marked by the blowing of the shofar in synagogue and begins the 10 days of penitence culminating in Yom Kippur. Sherry Greenfield, Baltimore Sun, 4 Oct. 2022 The shofar is an instrument made from a ram’s horn. Susan Dunne, Hartford Courant, 24 Sep. 2022 See More

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

Word History


Hebrew shōphār

First Known Use

1833, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of shofar was in 1833


Dictionary Entries Near shofar

Cite this Entry

“Shofar.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Mar. 2023.

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