גאון – pl. גאונים – Geonim – “excellency,” the formal title of the head of one of the academies of Bavel (Babylon, or present-day Iraq), and later Israel, Baghdad, Damascus, and Egypt. It is apparently shortened from the phrase gaon Yaakov, “pride of Jacob,” found in Amos 6:8, 8:7, Nachum 2:3, and Tehillim 47:5. In later colloquial speech, gaon came to denote a great Torah scholar or just “a genius.”
This article is part of this site’s knowledgebase. It features short articles on foundational topics and is designed to provide pop-up info within articles. You can browse the Jewish Knowledgebase Index.