Definition of Karaite in US English:



  • A member of a Jewish sect founded in the 8th century and located chiefly in the Crimea and nearby areas, and in Israel, which rejects rabbinical interpretation in favor of a literal interpretation of the scriptures.

    • ‘In Jerusalem, Benneson visited numerous synagogues, and even attended religious services of two Jewish sects: Karaites and Samaritans.’
    • ‘The various sects that developed - such as the Sadducees and the Karaites - questioned the oral tradition or rabbinic law, but never the Divine origin of the Torah.’
    • ‘So well established did this view become among Muslims that it seems to have rubbed off onto the Karaites - a Jewish sect which arose against an Islamic background in eighth-century Iraq.’
    • ‘It was so popular at one point that in the 10th century the majority of Jews in the Land of Israel were Karaites.’
    • ‘She is neither paid nor treated with kindness or respect, but she says she derives her only ecstasy from assisting Professor Mitwisser in his studies of the ancient Jewish heretic sect, the Karaites.’


Early 18th century: from Hebrew Qārā'īm (from qārā' ‘read’) + -ite.