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See also: Jubilee and jubilée


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Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English jubile, from Middle French jubile (French jubilé), from Old French jubileus, from Late Latin iūbilaeus. Beyond this point, the etymology is disputed. Traditionally this derives from Ancient Greek ἰωβηλαῖος (iōbēlaîos, of a jubilee), from ἰώβηλος (iṓbēlos, jubilee), from Hebrew יובל(yobēl/yovēl, ram, ram's horn; jubilee), presumably because a ram’s horn trumpet was originally used to proclaim the event.[1] More recent scholarship proposes that Late Latin jūbilaeus is from iūbilō (I shout for joy), which predates the Vulgate, and that this verb, as well as Middle Irish ilach (victory cry), English yowl, and Ancient Greek ἰύζω (iúzō, shout), derived from Proto-Indo-European *yu- (shout for joy).[2] In this interpretation, the Hebrew term is either a borrowing from an Indo-European language, or an independent word with no etymological relation to the Latin word.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /dʒuːbɪˈliː/
  • (file)


jubilee (plural jubilees)

  1. (Jewish historical) A special year of emancipation supposed to be kept every fifty years, when farming was abandoned and Hebrew slaves were set free. [from 14th c.]
    • 2009, Diarmaid MacCulloch, A History of Christianity, Penguin 2010, p. 120:
      in the old Israel, there had supposedly been a system of ‘Jubilee’, a year in which all land should go back to the family to which it had originally belonged and during which all slaves should be released.
  2. A 25th, 40th, 50th, 60th or 70th anniversary. [from 14th c.]
  3. (Catholicism) A special year (originally held every hundred years, then fifty, and then fewer) in which remission from sin could be granted as well as indulgences upon making a pilgrimage to Rome. [from 15th c.]
    • 1771, “Memoirs, Anecdotes, and Characters of the Court of Lewis XIV. []”, in The Monthly Review; or, Literary Journal, volume XLIV, London: [] R[alph] Griffiths: [], pages 61–62:
      ‘But to return to our jubilée*. The two lovers, admoniſhed by their conſciences, parted with mutual conſent, and determined purpoſe never to renew their commerce more: at leaſt ſo they thought at that time. Madame de Monteſpan retired to Paris, viſited the churches, faſted, prayed, and wept for her tranſgreſſions. The King alſo, on his part, performed likewiſe every duty of a good Chriſtian. ‘The jubilée being over, it became a divided queſtion, whether Madame de Monteſpan ſhould return to court any more. [] * A ſeaſon of penitence and prayer. [] There actually ſeems obvious to me, from the character, the caſt of features, and throughout the whole air and perſon of the Ducheſs of Orleans, the appearance of that conflict which one may ſuppoſe to have ariſen, on this renewed tete à tete, between love and the jubilée.
    • 1773, Richard Clarke, “An Abstract, &c.”, in Signs of Times, or, A Voice to Babylon, the Great City of the World; And to the Jews in particular: [], London: [] John Townsend, [], pages 2–4:
      In the Years of Moſes his Life, Fleſh and its Continuance is repreſented, each Year ſtanding for a Jubilé, when Moſes dies, the Law of Death over Fleſh, the Man of Sin of the firſt Tranſgreſſion, will be ſwallowed up in Life eternal: [] One hundred and twenty Jubilés make 6000 years: [] The Number of Days preſcribed by the Law for the Woman’s Uncleanneſs after the male and female child, are figurative, and point out 120 Jubilés or Days of the Lord, before the Re-union of the Male and Female in Man, according to the firſt Image of God in (a) Adam. Theſe 120 Days coincide as Jubilés, the acceptable Day of the Lord ſo called by (b) Iſaiah, with the other Figures of Time. [] But Joel’s Prophecy was only fulfilled, as a firſt Fruits and earneſt of the larger Effuſion of the Holy Spirit in the laſt Days, towards the cloſe of 120 Jubilés, as the Words of the Prophecy will ſufficiently declare that there muſt be a fuller Completion, when the Spirit muſt be poured out on all Fleſh. Joel iii. 28.
  4. A time of celebration or rejoicing. [from 16th c.]
  5. (obsolete) A period of fifty years; a half-century. [17th-18th c.]
    • 1646, Thomas Browne, Pseudodoxia Epidemica, I.5:
      How their faiths could decline so low, as to concede [...] that the felicity of their Paradise should consist in a Jubile of copulation, that is, a coition of one act prolonged unto fifty years.
  6. An occasion of mass manumission from slavery.
    • 1865, Henry Clay Work, “Marching Through Georgia”:
      Hurrah! Hurrah! we bring the jubilee!
      Hurrah! Hurrah! the flag that makes you free!
    • 1890, Levi C. McKinstry, “Lincoln’s White Name” in A Poetic Offering to John Greenleaf Whittier, page 101:
      The chains of that great power we broke;
      The burdened captives were set free,
      For Lincoln held the pen, whose stroke
      Proclaimed, the year of jubilee.

Derived terms[edit]



  1. ^ Peake’s commentary on the Bible
  2. ^ Mallory, J. P. and Adams, D. Q. (2006). The Oxford Introduction to Proto-Indo-European and the Proto-Indo-European World New York: Oxford University Press, →ISBN, p. 363.