philistine


philistine
[16] The original Philistines were inhabitants of Philistia, an area in the southwestern corner of ancient Palestine. They were famed for their aggression and harrying tactics, and so the word Philistine was often used metaphorically for an ‘enemy into whose hands one might fall’, but the notion of a Philistine as a ‘boorish person’ is a comparatively recent development, not recorded in English until the 19th century. It appears to have originated in German universities (the German term is Philister), and the story goes that it comes from the use of the biblical quotation ‘the Philistines be upon thee, Samson’ as the text of a sermon delivered at the funeral service for a student killed in a town-and-gown riot in Jena.
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   The word for a boorish or uncultured person derives from the Philistines, the warlike people of ancient Palestine (the names are related). The sense is said to come from the German biblical quotation 'Philister über dir, Samson!,' 'The Philistines be upon thee, Samson' (Judges 16:9), taken for the text of a sermon preached in 1683 at the funeral of a student killed by townspeople in a riot at Jena.

The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins. 2013.

Synonyms:

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  • philistine — (n.) person deficient in liberal culture, 1827, originally in Carlyle, popularized by him and Matthew Arnold, from Ger. Philister enemy of God s word, lit. Philistine, inhabitants of a Biblical land, neighbors (and enemies) of Israel (see… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Philistine — A Philistine (with a capital initial letter) is a member of an ancient Semitic people of Palestine. A philistine (with a small initial letter, usually) is a person who is hostile or indifferent to culture …   Modern English usage

  • Philistine — ► NOUN 1) a member of a people of ancient Palestine who came into conflict with the Israelites. 2) (philistine) a person who is hostile or indifferent to culture and the arts. DERIVATIVES philistinism noun. ORIGIN Greek Philistinos, from Hebrew …   English terms dictionary

  • Philistine — Phi*lis tine, n. [L. Philistinus, Heb. Phlishth[=i], pl. Phlishth[=i]m.] 1. A native or an inhabitant of ancient Philistia, a coast region of southern Palestine. [1913 Webster] 2. A bailiff. [Cant, Eng.] [Obs.] Swift. [1913 Webster] 3. A person… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Philistine — Phi*lis tine, a. 1. Of or pertaining to the Philistines. [1913 Webster] 2. Uncultured; commonplace. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • philistine — I noun artless person, conformist, conventionalist, nouveau riche, social climber, traditionalist II index ordinary Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • Philistine — n in the Bible, a member of a race of people who lived in Palestine, and who were the enemies of the ↑Israelites …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Philistine — O.T. people of coastal Palestine, who made war on the Israelites, mid 14c., from O.Fr. Philistin, from L.L. Philistinus, from Late Gk. Philistinoi, from Heb. P lishtim, people of P lesheth ( Philistia ); Cf. Akkad. Palastu, Egyptian Palusata; the …   Etymology dictionary

  • philistine — n *obscurantist, barbarian …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • Philistine — [fil′i stēn΄, fil′istīn΄; fi lis′tin, fi lis′tēn΄] n. [ME < LL(Ec) Philistinus, usually pl. Philistini < LGr (Josephus) philistinoi < Heb p lishtim; akin to PALESTINE] 1. a member of a non Semitic people that lived in Philistia and… …   English World dictionary

  • Philistine — Phil·is·tine (fĭl’ĭ stēn′, fĭ lĭs’tĭn, tēn′) n. 1) A member of a people, perhaps of Aegean origin, who settled ancient Philistia around the 12th century BC. 2) often philistine A person who is smugly indifferent or hostile to art and culture. adj …   Word Histories