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90s Slang You Should Know


[fil-uh-steen, -stahyn, fi-lis-tin, -teen] /ˈfɪl əˌstin, -ˌstaɪn, fɪˈlɪs tɪn, -tin/
(sometimes initial capital letter) a person who is lacking in or hostile or smugly indifferent to cultural values, intellectual pursuits, aesthetic refinement, etc., or is contentedly commonplace in ideas and tastes.
(initial capital letter) a native or inhabitant of ancient Philistia.
(sometimes initial capital letter) lacking in or hostile to culture.
smugly commonplace or conventional.
(initial capital letter) of or belonging to the ancient Philistines.
Origin of philistine
1350-1400; Middle English < Late Latin Philistīnī (plural) < Late Greek Philistînoi < Hebrew pəlishtīm
Related forms
[fil-uh-stee-niz-uh m, -stahy-, fi-lis-tuh-niz-uh m, -tee-] /ˈfɪl ə stiˌnɪz əm, -staɪ-, fɪˈlɪs təˌnɪz əm, -ti-/ (Show IPA),
1. Babbitt, vulgarian. 3. lowbrow. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for philistines
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • And surely that was his meaning when he threw scorn upon 'bores and philistines'.

    The Whirlpool George Gissing
  • Faraone is his private name and he is the king of the philistines.

    Diversions in Sicily H. Festing Jones
  • In that book the Israelites always conquered in the end, although the philistines, alias Fung, sat at their gates.

    Queen Sheba's Ring H. Rider Haggard
  • They would duck me in the brook, or drag me into the hall to make sport for the philistines.

    The Golden Dog William Kirby
  • Meanwhile the philistines prepared themselves for a war of extermination against the Israelites.

  • The lives they lead are dependent upon the opinion of the philistines.

  • And they said to him, "We are come down to bind thee, that we may deliver thee into the hand of the philistines."

    The Bible Story Rev. Newton Marshall Hall
  • The Phœnicians, or philistines, were the ancient Canaanites.

  • Suddenly there arose in his breast a great desire to save the will even yet from the hands of these philistines.

    Cousin Henry Anthony Trollope
British Dictionary definitions for philistines


a person who is unreceptive to or hostile towards culture, the arts, etc; a smug boorish person
a member of the non-Semitic people who inhabited ancient Philistia
(sometimes not capital) boorishly uncultured
of or relating to the ancient Philistines
Derived Forms
Philistinism (ˈfɪlɪstɪˌnɪzəm) noun
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 philistines


Old Testament people of coastal Palestine who made war on the Israelites, early 14c., from Old French Philistin, from Late Latin Philistinus, from Late Greek Philistinoi (plural), from Hebrew P'lishtim, "people of P'lesheth" ("Philistia"); cf. Akkad. Palastu, Egyptian Palusata; the word probably is the people's name for itself.



"person deficient in liberal culture," 1827, originally in Carlyle, popularized by him and Matthew Arnold, from German Philister "enemy of God's word," literally "Philistine," inhabitants of a Biblical land, neighbors (and enemies) of Israel (see Philistine). Popularized in German student slang (supposedly first in Jena, late 17c.) as a contemptuous term for "townies," and hence, by extension, "any uncultured person." Philistine had been used in a humorous figurative sense of "the enemy" in English from c.1600.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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philistines in Culture
Philistines [(fil-uh-steenz, fi-lis-tinz, fi-lis-teenz)]

In the Old Testament, enemies of the Israelites in their settlement in the Promised Land. (See David and Samson.)

Note: A “philistine” has come to mean a person who is ignorant and uncultured.
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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