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Initially, it denoted a ram's horn that was blown in celebration, then it came to label a 50th-year celebration, now it denotes any time of rejoicing; what word is it?

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Answer: jubilee

The word jubilee derives from the Hebrew yobhel, ram's horn, but in Hebrew it came to denote a 50th-year celebration during which slaves were emancipated and lands sold to pay debts were restored to their original owners. Note that the word shofar also denotes "ram's horn."

In English (via the Late Latin jubilaeus, the jubilee year), the word has come to denote a time of rejoicing.

Also, note that the word jubilation derives from the etymologically unrelated Latin word jubilare, to shout with joy.


I knew that! But it reminds me, I long ago read something about how a horse "jubilates" when it realizes it is almost home and speeds up in the "home stretch". I got the idea that the word "accelerate" somehow was related to "jubilate". This is obviously wrong, yet there is some nagging feeling in me that there *is* a connection!
steve at

Haven't heard "yovel" before, but the ram's horn blown during the Jewish new year is called the "shofar." I don't know about rejoicing, but if there haven't been any pogroms, shoahs, visitations from marauding Cossacks, etc. we traditionally show appreciation by saying, somewhated mutedly, "sho-far, sho-good."
jacko at

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