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[far-uh-see] /ˈfær əˌsi/
a member of a Jewish sect that flourished during the 1st century b.c. and 1st century a.d. and that differed from the Sadducees chiefly in its strict observance of religious ceremonies and practices, adherence to oral laws and traditions, and belief in an afterlife and the coming of a Messiah.
(lowercase) a sanctimonious, self-righteous, or hypocritical person.
Origin of Pharisee
before 900; Middle English Pharise, Farise, Old English Farīsēus < Late Latin Pharīsēus, variant of Pharīsaeus < Greek Pharīsaîos < Aramaic pərīshayyā, plural of pərīshā literally, separated Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for pharisees
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Thus, the doctrine which He has been preaching to the pharisees is brought out in all its power.

    The Gospel of St. John Frederick Denison Maurice
  • Hearing this, some of the pharisees who were with him said, "And are we blind?"

    The Children's Bible Henry A. Sherman
  • The pharisees do more to obey God than any others and this young man looked to me as though he tried even harder than most.

    Men Called Him Master Elwyn Allen Smith
  • The pharisees counted their presence a blemish in the reputation of the teacher.

    The Parables of Our Lord William Arnot
  • Bunyan does not accuse the rising hope of the pharisees of school or of synagogue ignorance.

  • The pharisees had need to keep alliance with the temporal powers.

    Understanding the Scriptures Francis McConnell
British Dictionary definitions for pharisees


(Judaism) a member of an ancient Jewish sect that was opposed to the Sadducees, teaching strict observance of Jewish tradition as interpreted rabbinically and believing in life after death and in the coming of the Messiah
(often not capital) a self-righteous or hypocritical person
Word Origin
Old English Farīsēus, ultimately from Aramaic perīshāiyā, pl of perīsh separated
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for pharisees



from Old English Fariseos, Old French pharise (13c.), and directly from Late Latin Pharisæus, from Greek Pharisaios, from Aramaic perishayya, emphatic plural of perish "separated, separatist," corresponding to Hebrew parush, from parash "he separated." Ancient Jewish sect (2c. B.C.E.-1c. C.E.) distinguished by strict observance but regarded as pretentious and self-righteous, at least by Jesus (Matt. xxiii:27). Meaning "self-righteous person, formalist, hypocrite" is attested from 1580s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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pharisees in Culture
Pharisees [(far-uh-seez)]

A group of teachers among the Jews at the time of Jesus; he frequently rebukes them in the Gospels for their hypocrisy. Jesus says they are like “the blind leading the blind,” or like “whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.”

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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