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[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. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for philistinism
Historical Examples
  • philistinism was the note of the age and community in which he lived.

    De Profundis Oscar Wilde
  • The latter represented freedom and cleverness at war with philistinism.


    William Graham Sumner
  • To say that you do not like them is confession of your own philistinism.

    The Feasts of Autolycus

    Elizabeth Robins Pennell
  • This want of understanding is called by some of us your philistinism.

    The Intellectual Life =Philip Gilbert Hamerton
  • So the good woman had said, showing her lack of geist—her philistinism.

    When Ghost Meets Ghost

    William Frend De Morgan
  • philistinism, it seems, finds ready converts on the other side of the globe.


    Clive Bell
  • Provincialism is the soil in which philistinism grows most rapidly and widely.

    Books and Culture Hamilton Wright Mabie
  • At once you are covered with reproaches for your philistinism.

    Humanly Speaking Samuel McChord Crothers
  • She was somewhat annoyed, and she made up her mind that there must be an element of philistinism in his character.

    To Leeward

    F. Marion Crawford
  • It was the English part of her nature, fighting for a show of philistinism amidst so much that was the very reverse.

    To Leeward

    F. Marion Crawford
British Dictionary definitions for philistinism


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 philistinism


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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