Alternative Spellings



  • one of the five books that compose kethuvim--writings--in Tanakh; can also refer to the physical scroll on which one is written; a long, engrossing story or description

Example Sentences

  • "It's Purim. How can you miss the megillah reading?" "Their wedding had a sushi bar, carving stations, tuxedoed waiters, live music, champagne--the whole megillah!"

Languages of Origin

Textual Hebrew, Yiddish


Heb מגילה megilá, Yiddish megíle

Who Uses This

Jews: Jews of diverse religious backgrounds and organizational involvements


North America


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).
The Joys of Hebrew, by Lewis Glinert (New York, 1992).
Dictionary of Jewish Usage: A Popular Guide to the Use of Jewish Terms, by Sol Steinmetz (Lanham, MD, 2005).


The five megillot are The Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Esther. The phrase "the whole megillah" (see example) is a calque of די גאַנצע מגילה di gantse megile, from Yiddish.

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