• n. "A title of honor for the rabbis and teachers who were the spiritual heads of the Babylonian yeshivot between the 6th and 11th centuries C.E." (JPS)

  • "A rabbi whose learning was so great that he was given the honorary title of gaon" (Rosten), e.g. the Vilna Gaon.

  • n. Modern Hebrew: genius. (JPS)

Example Sentences

  • "Thus Elijah ben Solomon (1720–97) became known as gaon of Vilna or the Gaon." (source)

Languages of Origin

  • Textual Hebrew


  • גאון gaon '(one who is) prideful'

    • Who Uses This

      • Religious: Jews who are engaged in religious observance and have some Jewish education
      • Orthodox: Jews who identify as Orthodox and observe halacha (Jewish law)


      • North America
      • Great Britain
      • South Africa


      • The New Joys of Yiddish, by Leo Rosten and Lawrence Bush (New York, 2003[1968]).
      • Yiddish and English: A Century of Yiddish in America, by Sol Steinmetz (Tuscaloosa, 1986).
      • The JPS Dictionary of Jewish Words, by Joyce Eisenberg and Ellen Scolnic, (Philadelphia, 2001).
      • Dictionary of Jewish Usage: A Popular Guide to the Use of Jewish Terms, by Sol Steinmetz (Lanham, MD, 2005).

      Alternative Spellings

      ga-on, goen, go'on, ga'on, go'oyn, gooyn

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