Try Our Apps
Dictionary.com

follow Dictionary.com

2017 Word of the Year

sophist

[sof-ist] /ˈsɒf ɪst/
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
1535-1545
1535-45; < Latin sophista < Greek sophistḗs sage, derivative of sophízesthai
Related forms
antisophist, noun, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for sophist
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • There is little worthy of remark in the characters of the sophist.

    Sophist Plato
  • But the sophist is the Proteus who takes the likeness of all of them; all other deceivers have a piece of him in them.

    Sophist Plato
  • And Plato does not on this ground reject the claim of the sophist to be the true philosopher.

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

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

    Sophist Plato
  • To the Parmenides, the sophist stands in a less defined and more remote relation.

    Sophist Plato
  • And now by the help of this example we may proceed to bring to light the nature of the sophist.

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

    Sophist Plato
  • Again, there is a third line, in which a sophist may be traced.

    Sophist Plato
British Dictionary definitions for sophist

sophist

/ˈsɒfɪst/
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
Cite This Source
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
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Nearby words for sophist

Word Value for sophist

12
12
Scrabble Words With Friends