Alternative Spellings

biały, bealy, bealie, bialie


  • A flat breakfast roll, shaped like a round wading pool, sometimes sprinkled with onion. (Rosten)
  • A round, crusty chewy bread roll with an indented center well, the bialy is usually topped with toasted onions—and—at its most authentic—with poppy seeds. (JPS)

Example Sentences

  • Cream cheese is always good on a bialy.
  • "'Forty cents a dozen for bialies?' protested Mrs. Becker. 'The baker across the street is asking only twenty!'" (Rosten)
  • "The bialy roll, a growing packaged favorite in food stores across the country, is second only to the bagel as a base for cream cheese and lox." (Rosten)

Languages of Origin

Yiddish, Russian


Yiddish ביאַלי biali 'bialy', shortening of ביאַליסטאָקער קוכן bialistoker kukhn 'Bialystock's cake" from the city name Białystok in Poland.

Who Uses This

Older: Jews who are middle-aged and older
Ashkenazim: Jews with Ashkenazi heritage


North America


The New Joys of Yiddish, by Leo Rosten and Lawrence Bush (New York, 2003[1968]).
The JPS Dictionary of Jewish Words, by Joyce Eisenberg and Ellen Scolnic, (Philadelphia, 2001)


"The bialy, an alternative to the bagel, originated in the town of Bialystok, Poland" (JPS).

Edit     See something you disagree with? Feel free to edit it. All changes will be moderated.