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See also: Jubilee and jubilée


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Alternative forms


From Middle French jubile (French jubilé), from Late Latin j?bilaeus. Beyond this point, the etymology is disputed. Traditionally this derives from Ancient Greek (i?b?laîos, "of a jubilee"), from ? (i?b?los, "jubilee"), from Hebrew ?(yob?l/yov?l, "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 j?bilaeus is from i?bil? ("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 ? (iúz?, "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. (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



  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.

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