- a peculiarity of pronunciation, behavior, mode of dress, etc., that distinguishes a particular class or set of persons.
- a slogan; catchword.
- a common saying or belief with little current meaning or truth.
Origin of shibboleth
Examples from the Web for shibboleth
Herzog was never just a novel; from the beginning it was a symbol, a crucible, a shibboleth.American Dreams: Saul Bellow’s Masterpiece of Lamentation
July 27, 2014
The Shibboleth is always absurd and in a case like the present ruinous.A Girl of the Commune
George Alfred Henty
High warp and low warp are the terms so often used as to seem a shibboleth.The Tapestry Book
Helen Churchill Candee
How tiresome the shibboleth which many clergymen talk in church is!The Story of My Life, volumes 4-6
Augustus J. C. Hare
This does not mean that all ethics lies compact in the shibboleth, Be yourself.Philosophy and The Social Problem
He did not repudiate the sincerely pious, because they could not say his “Shibboleth.”Sermons of Christmas Evans
- a belief, principle, or practice which is commonly adhered to but which is thought by some people to be inappropriate or out of date
- a custom, phrase, or use of language that acts as a test of belonging to, or as a stumbling block to becoming a member of, a particular social class, profession, etc
Word Origin and History for shibboleth
late 14c., the Hebrew word shibboleth, meaning "flood, stream," also "ear of corn;" in Judges xii:4-6. It was the password used by the Gileadites to distinguish their own men from fleeing Ephraimites, because Ephraimites could not pronounce the -sh- sound. Hence the figurative sense of "watchword" (first recorded 1630s), which evolved by 1862 to "outmoded slogan still adhered to." A similar test-word was cicera "chick pease," used by the Italians to identify the French (who could not pronounce it correctly) during the massacre called the Sicilian Vespers (1282).