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See also: Jubilee and jubilée



Celebration of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom’s platinum jubilee (sense 2.2), marking the 70th anniversary of her accession to the throne on 6 February 1952: a flypast by the Royal Air Force during the Trooping the Colour parade on 2 June 2022 (top), and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office illuminated with the Platinum Jubilee emblem (bottom).

From Late Middle English jubile (Jewish practice of celebrating the end of a fifty-year period; (Roman Catholicism) year declared by the Pope for remission of sins; celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of an event; (figuratively) occasion of rejoicing) [and other forms],[1] from Middle French jubile, from Old French jubilee, jubileus (modern French jubilé), from Late Latin iūbilaeus (adjective, also treated as a noun), from Ancient Greek ἰωβηλαῖος (iōbēlaîos, of a jubilee), from ἰώβηλος (iṓbēlos, jubilee) + -ῐος (-ios, suffix meaning ‘of or pertaining to’ forming adjectives).[2] Ἰώβηλος (Iṓbēlos) is derived from Hebrewיובל(yōḇēl, ram, trumpet made from a ram’s horn; jubilee) (because a ram’s horn trumpet was originally used to proclaim the event; see Leviticus 25:9), influenced by Latin iūbilum (a cry, a shout) and iūbilō (to cheer, shout or sing joyfully).[2]


  • (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˈd͡ʒuːbɪliː/, /ˌd͡ʒuːbɪˈliː/, (senses 3.3 and 3.4 when spelled jubile, obsolete) /ˈd͡ʒuːbɪl/
  • (file)
  • (General American) IPA(key): /ˈd͡ʒubəˌli/, /ˌd͡ʒubəˈli/, (senses 3.3 and 3.4 when spelled jubile, obsolete) /ˈd͡ʒubəl/
  • Rhymes: (one pronunciation) -iː
  • Hyphenation: ju‧bi‧lee


jubilee (countable and uncountable, plural jubilees)

  1. (countable, Jewish history) A special year of emancipation supposed to be observed every fifty years, when farming was temporarily stopped, certain houses and land which had been sold could be redeemed by the original owners or their relatives, and Hebrew slaves set free. [from late 14th c.]
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, [] (King James Version), London: [] Robert Barker, [], →OCLC, Leviticus 25:8–10, column 2:
      And thou ſhalt number ſeuen Sabbaths of yeeres vnto thee, ſeuen times ſeuen yeeres, and the ſpace of the ſeuen Sabbaths of yeeres, ſhall be vnto thee fourtie and nine yeeres. Then ſhalt thou cauſe the trumpet of the Jubile to ſound, on the tenth day of the ſeuenth moneth, in the day of atonement ſhall ye make the trumpet ſound throughout all your land. And ye ſhall hallow the fiftieth yeere, and proclaime libertie throughout all the land, vnto al the inhabitants thereof: It ſhalbe a Jubile vnto you, and ye ſhall returne euery man vnto his poſſeſſion, and ye ſhall returne euery man vnto his family.
    • 1626, [Samuel] Purchas, “Of the Festiuall Dayes Instituted by God in the Law”, in Purchas His Pilgrimes. [], 5th part, London: [] William Stansby for Henrie Fetherstone, [], →OCLC, 2nd book, page 113:
      Touching this yeere of Iubilee is much controverſie. The ancient Authors account it the fiftieth yeere. [] Culuiſius hath at large diſputed this queſtion againſt Creutzhemius and Bucholcerus, by diuers arguments prouing that the Iubilee vvas but fortie nine yeeres complete, and that the fiftieth yeere vvas the firſt onvvards of another Iubilee or Sabbath of yeeres: []
    • 2009, Diarmaid MacCulloch, “Boundaries Defined (50 CE–300)”, in Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years, New York, N.Y.: Viking, published 2010, →ISBN, page 120:
      [I]n 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. (countable, by extension)
    1. (Roman Catholicism) A special year (originally held every hundred years, then at more frequent intervals, and now declarable by the Pope at any time and also for periods less than a year) in which plenary indulgences and remission from sin can be granted upon making a pilgrimage to Rome or other designated churches. [from 15th c.]
    2. A major anniversary of an event, particularly the fiftieth (50th) anniversary of a coronation or marriage. [from late 14th c.]
      • 1853, Thomas De Quincey, “The Female Infidel”, in Autobiographic Sketches (De Quincey’s Works; I), London: James Hogg & Sons, →OCLC, footnote *, page 131:
        [A] married couple, when celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of their marriage-day, are said to keep their golden jubilee, but on the 25th anniversary they have credit only for a silver jubilee.
      • 2022 February 6, Mark Landler, “Queen Elizabeth, anchor in a storm-tossed Britain, marks 70-year reign”, in The New York Times[1], New York, N.Y.: The New York Times Company, →ISSN, →OCLC, archived from the original on 6 February 2022:
        The 70th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne will be a good deal more earthbound: The 95-year-old monarch plans to spend a quiet Sunday at her country estate, Sandringham, where her father died on Feb. 6, 1952. Four days of festivities to celebrate her Platinum Jubilee are scheduled for June.
  3. (figuratively)
    1. (countable) A time for release or restitution. [from late 16th c.]
      • 1642, Tho[mas] Browne, “The First Part”, in Religio Medici. [], 4th edition, London: [] E. Cotes for Andrew Crook [], published 1656, →OCLC, section 44, page 94:
        [T]hough it be in the povver of the vveakeſt arme to take avvay life, it is not in the ſtrongeſt to deprive us of death: [] the firſt day of our Jubilee is death; the Devill hath therefore failed of his deſires; vvee are happier vvith death than vve ſhould have been vvithout it: there is no miſery but in himſelfe vvhere there is no end of miſery: []
      • 1865 (date written), [Henry Clay Work], “Marching through Georgia”, in Beadle’s Dime Song Book [], number 17, New York, N.Y.: Beadle and Company, [], published 1866, →OCLC, page 57:
        "Hurrah! hurrah! we bring the Jubilee! / Hurrah! Hurrah! the flag that makes you free!" / So we sung the chorus from Atlanta to the sea, / While we were marching through Georgia.
      • 1890, L[evi] C. McKinstry, “[Lincoln’s White Name]”, in A Poetic Offering to John Greenleaf Whittier [], Haverhill, Mass.: L. C. McKinstry, →OCLC, 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.
    2. (countable) A time of celebration or rejoicing. [from late 16th c.]
    3. (uncountable) Exultation, rejoicing; jubilation. [from early 16th c.]
      • 1625, [Samuel] Purchas, “A General Collection and Historicall Representation of the Iesuites Entrance into Iapon and China, untill Their Admission in the Royal Citie of Nanquin”, in Purchas His Pilgrimes. [], 3rd part, London: [] William Stansby for Henrie Fetherstone, [], →OCLC, 2nd book, § II (Iaponian Embassage to the Pope; []), page 326:
        Hee cauſed his little Sonne to goe vvith great State to Sandai to the Dairi, that is, to bovv the head thrice before him dovvne to the Mats, vvho entertayned him vvith a ſolemne feaſt, vvith great Iubilee in alteration of names and titles of honour to the Nobles.
      • c. 1634 (date written), [James Shirley], The Coronation: A Comedy. [], London: [] Tho[mas] Cotes, for Andrew Crooke, and William Cooke [], published 1640, →OCLC, Act II:
        The peoples joy to knovv us reconcild, / Is added to the Iubile of the day, / VVe have no more a faction but one heart, / Peace flovv in every boſome.
      • 1822, [Walter Scott], chapter III, in Peveril of the Peak. [], volume I, Edinburgh: [] Archibald Constable and Co.; London: Hurst, Robinson, and Co., →OCLC, pages 46–47:
        Was it for Peveril of the Peak, in the jubilee of his spirits, to consider how his wife was to find beef and mutton to feast his neighbours?
      • 1843, William H[ickling] Prescott, chapter VI, in History of the Conquest of Mexico, [], volume III, New York, N.Y.: Harper and Brothers, [], →OCLC, book VI (Siege and Surrender of Mexico), page 155:
        The Mexicans, elated with their success, meanwhile, abandoned themselves to jubilee; singing, dancing, and feasting on the mangled relics of their wretched victims.
      • a. 1893, Alfred Tennyson, “Sea Fairies”, in The Complete Poetical Works of Alfred Tennyson, Chicago, Ill.: The Dominion Company, published 1897, →OCLC, page 32:
        We will kiss sweet kisses, and speak sweet words: / O listen, listen, your eyes shall glisten / With pleasure and love and jubilee: []
    4. (uncountable) The sound of celebration or rejoicing; shouts of joy. [from 16th c.]
    5. (countable, African-American Vernacular, music, often attributively) A joyful African-American (usually Christian) folk song. [from late 19th c.]
  4. (countable, obsolete)
    1. A period of fifty years; a half-century. [17th–18th c.]
      • 1646, Thomas Browne, “Of Credulity and Supinity”, in Pseudodoxia Epidemica: [], London: [] T[homas] H[arper] for Edward Dod, [], →OCLC, 1st book, page 17:
        Hovv their faiths could decline ſo low, as to concede their generations in heaven, to be made by the ſmell of a citron, or that the felicity of their Paradiſe ſhould conſiſt in a Jubile of conjunction, that is a coition of one act prolonged unto fifty years.
      • 1655, Thomas Fuller, “Section II. The Twelfth Century. [].”, in James Nichols, editor, The Church History of Britain, [], new edition, volume I, London: [] [James Nichols] for Thomas Tegg and Son, [], published 1837, →OCLC, book III, subsection 69 (Becket, after Fifty Years, Enshrined), page 317:
        And now, being on this subject, once to dispatch [Thomas] Becket out of our way, just a jubilee of years after his death, Stephen Langton, his mediate successor, removed his body from the Under-croft in Christ-church, where first he was buried, and laid him, at his own charge, in a most sumptuous shrine, at the east end of the church.
        The spelling has been modernized.
    2. (rare) A fiftieth year. [17th c.]

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  1. ^ jūbilẹ̄, n.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  2. 2.0 2.1 jubilee, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, December 2020; “jubilee, n.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.

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