Definition of sabbath in US English:



  • 1often the SabbathA day of religious observance and abstinence from work, kept by Jews from Friday evening to Saturday evening, and by most Christians on Sunday.

    • ‘Although he happily watched me light the sabbath candles and even attended synagogue once, he was never going to be a part of the religious life I was constructing for myself.’
    • ‘Likewise, the Christian practice of keeping sabbath provides the time we need to break bread together - and the joyful breaking of bread at home and in worship helps us to keep sabbath.’
    • ‘So far, most of the discussion of Lieberman's Jewishness has focused on a particular religious practice: sabbath observance.’
    • ‘The ancient Israelites celebrated the sabbath as a day of solemn rest but as a festive occasion as well.’
    • ‘So sabbath meals have to be cooked before the Sabbath.’
    • ‘Thousands of neo-Nazis held a rally, marching near a synagogue on the Jewish sabbath.’
    • ‘What I seek most is God alone, the God discovered in sabbath emptiness and silence, the God who cannot be added to a grocery list of other happenings and thrills, who cannot be managed or comprehended, who can only be loved.’
    • ‘Nor are the sabbath candles in a Jewish household lit by a rabbi - unless she happens to be the leader of a synagogue that ordains women.’
    • ‘Whereas John had worked outside settled areas, Jesus went from town to town, village to village, usually preaching in synagogues on the sabbath.’
    • ‘The command to keep the Jewish Sabbath could then be taken metaphorically to refer to any day of rest, and because of the history and customs of this country, that day is Sunday, the Christian sabbath.’
    • ‘Sunday is the Lord's Day, the Christian sabbath on which we rest from our labors and in Christ and refresh ourselves in worship.’
    • ‘From new moon to new moon, and from sabbath to sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before me, says the LORD.’
    • ‘Saturday is the Jewish sabbath, whereas for Muslims the holiest day of the week is Friday.’
    • ‘Orthodox Jews should be able to observe the Saturday sabbath and not be forced to have their hair cut.’
    • ‘In other words, doing justice and keeping sabbath are not only laws to be obeyed but gospel promises into which we are to live.’
    • ‘The Old Testament focus of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church includes dietary laws similar to the kosher tradition, circumcision after the eighth day of birth, and a Saturday sabbath.’
    • ‘Jesus did not call upon people to repent, or fast, or observe the sabbath.’
    • ‘‘Observe the sabbath day and keep it holy’ is not something we can blow off, according to the Deuteronomist.’
    • ‘Our highest calling is to our God, the One God, before whom we have no other gods, whose name we do not take in vain, and whose sabbath day we keep sacred.’
    • ‘Planning takes a certain mindset, a kind of discipline. It is not unlike sabbath time, which we need to replenish our souls, our relationships, our bodies, and our imaginations.’
  • 2A supposed annual midnight meeting of witches with the Devil.

    • ‘Medieval witchcraft was not a rebellion against orthodoxy so much as a continuation of heathen impulses (the witches' sabbath resembled Dionysian revels).’
    • ‘It shows a young musician who, in a series of opium-induced dreams, pursues his unattainable Beloved or idée fixe through a ballroom, an idyllic landscape, a prison, and a witches' sabbath where she appears hideously transformed.’
    • ‘In the fifth, ‘Dream of a Witches' Sabbath’, the artist sees himself surrounded by an assembly of sorcerers and devils celebrating the sabbath.’
    • ‘The story went that every year on April 30th the witches from all over Germany would fly on their brooms to meet and celebrate the witches' sabbath on the Brocken mountain.’
    • ‘He produced some altarpieces, but his main speciality was in small cabinet pictures with historical, mythological, or allegorical themes as well as genre and fantastical scenes, such as the witches' sabbath.’


Old English, from Latin sabbatum, via Greek from Hebrew šabbāṯ, from šāḇaṯ ‘to rest’.