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sophist

[sof-ist]
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noun
  1. (often initial capital letter) Greek History.
    1. any of a class of professional teachers in ancient Greece who gave instruction in various fields, as in general culture, rhetoric, politics, or disputation.
    2. a person belonging to this class at a later period who, while professing to teach skill in reasoning, concerned himself with ingenuity and specious effectiveness rather than soundness of argument.
  2. a person who reasons adroitly and speciously rather than soundly.
  3. a philosopher.

Origin of sophist

1535–45; < Latin sophista < Greek sophistḗs sage, derivative of sophízesthai
Related formsan·ti·soph·ist, noun, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for sophist

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Plato does not really mean to say that the Sophist or the Statesman can be caught in this way.

    Sophist

    Plato

  • The seller of the arts may be called an art-seller; the seller of virtue, a Sophist.

    Sophist

    Plato

  • And now, leaving him, we will return to our pursuit of the Sophist.

    Sophist

    Plato

  • The Sophist, then, has not real knowledge; he is only an imitator, or image-maker.

    Sophist

    Plato

  • And this is Plato's reply, both in the Cratylus and Sophist.

    Sophist

    Plato


British Dictionary definitions for sophist

sophist

noun
  1. (often capital) one of the pre-Socratic philosophers who were itinerant professional teachers of oratory and argument and who were prepared to enter into debate on any matter however specious
  2. a person who uses clever or quibbling arguments that are fundamentally unsound

Word Origin

C16: from Latin sophista, from Greek sophistēs a wise man, from sophizesthai to act craftily
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

Word Origin and History for sophist

n.

"one who makes use of fallacious arguments," mid-15c., earlier sophister (late 14c.), from Latin sophista, sophistes, from Greek sophistes "a master of one's craft; a wise or prudent man, one clever in matters of daily life," from sophizesthai "to become wise or learned," from sophos "skilled in a handicraft, cunning in one's craft; clever in matters of everyday life, shrewd; skilled in the sciences, learned; clever; too clever," of unknown origin. Greek sophistes came to mean "one who gives intellectual instruction for pay," and at Athens, contrasted with "philosopher," it became a term of contempt.

Sophists taught before the development of logic and grammar, when skill in reasoning and in disputation could not be accurately distinguished, and thus they came to attach great value to quibbles, which soon brought them into contempt. [Century Dictionary]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper