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Alternative forms




Borrowed from Yiddish בעל־הבית (balebos), from Hebrew בַּעַל הַבַּיִת (bá'al habáyit, master of the house).


  • IPA(key): /bɑːləˈbʌs/, /bɑːləˈbɒs/, /bɑːləˈbɔs/
  • Audio (Southern England):(file)



balebos (plural balebatim)

  1. (Judaism) Master of the house, head of the household, host.
  2. (Judaism) House owner, homeowner.
  3. (Judaism, by extension) Boss, person in charge (of anything).
  4. (Judaism) Important man, bourgeoisie.
    • 2008, Joseph Margoshes, “Reb Vovtshi's Kloyz”, in A World Apart: A Memoir of Jewish Life in Nineteenth Century Galicia, →ISBN, page 51:
      An annual custom that lasted for many years involved a celebration of the eight days of Chanukah for all of the balebatim. Every evening was hosted by a different balebos and there was a lavish feast.
  5. (Judaism) Layman, congregant, non-clergy.
    • 1996, Jonathan Boyarin, “My Trip to Israel, Continued”, in Palestine and Jewish History: Criticism at the Borders of Ethnography, →ISBN, page 153:
      The rabbi, whom I met and then overheard at a kiddush after shul, was going over his sermon with some of the balebatim, [] .