Word Origin & History
"Jewish doctor of religious law," 1484, (in O.E. in biblical context only; in M.E. also as a title prefixed to personal names), from L.L. rabbi, from Gk. rhabbi, from Mishnaic Heb. rabbi "my master," from rabh "master, great one," title of respect for Jewish doctors of law + -i, first person sing. pronominal
suffix. From Sem. root r-b-b "to be great or numerous" (cf. robh "multitude;" Arabic rabba "was great," rabb "master"). The -n- in rabbinical (1622) is via Fr. form rabbin, from M.L. rabbinus (cf. It. rabbino, Sp., Port. rabino), perhaps from a presumed plural of the Heb. word.