Definition of dreidel in US English:



North American
  • 1A small four-sided spinning top with a Hebrew letter on each side, used by Jews.

    • ‘Schools planning ‘holiday season’ programs have been instructed to not include any icons or images in their pamphlets or concert programs that might be construed as religious symbols; for example, Christmas trees or dreidels.’
    • ‘Jane wiped her watering eyes and turned to look at the spinning dreidel.’
    • ‘One year I will get too frustrated and start sending everyone cards with dreidels on them.’
    • ‘Sleigh bells are ringing, dreidels are spinning, and your two-week vacation is just around the corner.’
    • ‘The holidays are rich with traditions, from exchanging gifts and spinning dreidels to more personalized rituals like sharing family recipes and lending a helping hand at local shelters.’
    1. 1.1 A gambling game played with a dreidel, especially at Hanukkah.
      • ‘Again, playing dreidel for money is not the same as gambling in a casino.’
      • ‘We'd go over to an aunt's house, play dreidel and then on each night of Hanukkah, there'd be all the presents in the living room.’
      • ‘We celebrate Hannukah by playing dreidel - gambling, basically - for gelt, which is coin-shaped chocolate.’
      • ‘Foil-wrapped chocolate coins called Hanukkah Gelt are given as gifts and are also the prize in a children's game called dreidel.’


1930s: from Yiddish dreydl; compare with German drehen ‘to turn’.