Word curio icon

Word Curio

July 3, 2020

Word of the Day: Shofar

1 CQ

Word of the Day : September 21, 2017

shofar \SHOH-far\ noun


: the horn of an animal (usually a ram) blown as a trumpet by the ancient Hebrews in battle and during religious observances and used in modern Judaism especially during Rosh Hashanah and at the end of Yom Kippur


"A collection of local artists will be selling their artwork, crafts, jewelry and Judaica, and gift booths will offer T-shirts, books and traditional Jewish and Israeli items, from mezuzahs to shofars." — Jennifer Nixon, The Arkansas (Little Rock) Democrat-Gazette, 27 Apr. 2017

"So I sat as still as possible, letting the melodic intonations of Hebrew roll through me, letting the haunting sound of the shofar fill my chest." — Robyn K. Schneider, Silent Running, 2015

Did You Know?

One of the shofar's original uses was to proclaim the Jubilee year (a year of emancipation of Hebrew slaves and restoration of alienated lands to their former owners). Today, it is mainly used in synagogues during the High Holy Days. It is blown daily, except on Shabbat, during the month of Elul (the 12th month of the civil year or the 6th month of the ecclesiastical year in the Jewish calendar), and is sounded a number of times during the Rosh Hashanah services, and again at the end of the last service (known as neilah) on Yom Kippur. The custom is to sound the shofar in several series that alternate shorter notes resembling sobbing and wailing with longer unbroken blasts.

Aired September 21, 2017

All Merriam-Webster content is available at

  • Recommended Recommended
  • History & In Progress History
  • Browse Library
  • Most Popular Library

Get Personalized Recommendations

Let us help you figure out what to learn! By taking a short interview you’ll be able to specify your learning interests and goals, so we can recommend the perfect courses and lessons to try next.

Start Interview

You don't have any lessons in your history.
Just find something that looks interesting and start learning!

500 characters max
Michael L
Why is this considered to be an English word? It's a Hebrew word that we use in English, but by that criterion couldn't just about any word be considered an English word? I mean, we can use any word in English that comes from another language, and then it would be considered an English word. It just seems to me that by that criterion any word from any language can be an English word.
500 characters max