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[sem-ahyt or, esp. British, see-mahyt] /ˈsɛm aɪt or, esp. British, ˈsi maɪt/
a member of any of various ancient and modern peoples originating in southwestern Asia, including the Akkadians, Canaanites, Phoenicians, Hebrews, and Arabs.
a Jew.
a member of any of the peoples descended from Shem, the eldest son of Noah.
Origin of Semite
1870-75; < New Latin sēmīta < Late Latin Sēm (< Greek Sḗm < Hebrew Shēm Shem) + -īta -ite1
Related forms
non-Semite, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for Semite
Historical Examples
  • But the worship of which blood is the tie is not to the Aryan, as to the Semite, the whole of religion.

    History of Religion

    Allan Menzies
  • The Being in whom that fulness of light was revealed,—was he not a Semite of the Semites?

    Zionism and Anti-Semitism Max Simon Nordau
  • The Semite has been and still is the priest to all Arya, by the deepest necessity of the spirit.

    Homer's Odyssey Denton J. Snider
  • These took to it kindly, for they had the Semite's born instinct for trading.

  • The religion of the Semite was essentially different from that of the Sumerian.

    A Primer of Assyriology Archibald Henry Sayce
  • The power that uplifted Aryan and Semite did not come from without, but from within.

    The Color Line William Benjamin Smith
  • These two names (Aryan and Semite), then, signify today rather two groups of peoples than two distinct races.

  • They were Semites with the inborn religious spirit which is characteristic of the Semite, and they were also a mixed race.

  • His force diminished, his numbers lessened, and the subjugated Semite increased in strength.

  • The Semite has a smaller range of ideas, but he applies them more practically and more thoroughly.

    History of Religion

    Allan Menzies
British Dictionary definitions for Semite


a member of the group of Caucasoid peoples who speak a Semitic language, including the Jews and Arabs as well as the ancient Babylonians, Assyrians, and Phoenicians
another word for a Jew
Word Origin
C19: from New Latin sēmīta descendant of Shem, via Greek Sēm, from Hebrew Shem
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 Semite

1847, "a Jew, Arab, Assyrian, or Aramaean" (an apparently isolated use from 1797 refers to the Semitic language group), back-formation from Semitic or else from French Sémite (1845), from Modern Latin Semita, from Late Latin Sem "Shem," one of the three sons of Noah (Gen. x:21-30), regarded as the ancestor of the Semites (in old Bible-based anthropology), from Hebrew Shem. In modern sense said to have been first used by German historian August Schlözer in 1781.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Semite in Culture
Semite [(sem-eyet)]

Someone who belongs to the Semitic peoples. The Semites are supposedly descended from the biblical Shem, the eldest son of Noah.

The 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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