Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search
See also: Jubilee and jubilée


English Wikipedia has an article on:

Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle French jubile (French jubilé), from Late Latin jūbilaeus. 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 disputes this – while the religious sense is certainly from Hebrew, the term itself is proposed to have Proto-Indo-European roots. Specifically, this interpretation proposed 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). In this interpretation, the Hebrew term is instead a borrowing from an Indo-European language, hence ultimately of Proto-Indo-European origin, or an independent word with no etymological relation to the Latin word.[2]



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.]
  4. A time of celebration or rejoicing. [from 16th c.]
  5. 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.
  6. (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.

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.