Baal (countable and uncountable, plural Baals or Baalim)
- (mythology, biblical) A storm and fertility god of the Phoenician and Canaanite pantheons, reckoned as chief of the gods by the 1st millennium BC.
- (mythology, biblical, sometimes lowercase) Various other Baalim, understood as distinct patron gods or as local patron aspects the great god Baal.
- (Christianity) One of the demons or fallen angels of Satan.
- (often lowercase) A false deity or idol; (obsolete, pejorative) Catholic or Orthodox icons of the saints.
The latinized spelling and anglicized pronunciation is still used for the expanded senses, but modern scholarship increasingly notes the ayin of the original name by spelling it Baʿal or Ba'al and pronouncing it more in line with the original Hebrew form. Misunderstood as a solar deity by 19th century scholarship; misunderstood as a collective term for various patron gods by 19th and 20th century scholarship prior to the discovery of inscriptions at Ugarit showing these to have been understood as aspects of a single divinity, whose worship gradually supplanted that of El. These aspects are sometimes distinguished by epithets: Baalberith, Beelzebub, Beelzebul, etc.
The Hebraic plural Baalim is particularly used for its appearances in the Bible, where it may refer to gods or idols of the god. The anglicized plural is more common in other contexts.
↑ Oxford English Dictionary, 1st ed. "Baal, n. Oxford University Press (Oxford), 1885.
↑ Merriam-Webster Online. "baal". 2015.
↑ Webb's Easy Bible Names Pronunciation Guide. "Baal". Steven Webb (Riverside), 2012.