- (often initial capital letter) Greek History.
- any of a class of professional teachers in ancient Greece who gave instruction in various fields, as in general culture, rhetoric, politics, or disputation.
- 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.
- a person who reasons adroitly and speciously rather than soundly.
- a philosopher.
Origin of sophist
Examples from the Web for sophists
What principle of rival Sophists or anybody else can overcome in such an unequal contest?
Are not the public who say these things the greatest of all Sophists?
The Athenian youth were not corrupted in this sense, and therefore the Sophists could not have corrupted them.Sophist
He is asked 'whether Meno shall go to the Sophists and be taught.'Meno
All this is easy enough; the noble breed of heroes are a tribe of sophists and rhetors.Cratylus
- (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
- a person who uses clever or quibbling arguments that are fundamentally unsound
Word Origin and History for sophists
"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]
Ancient Greek teachers who were accused by some of their contemporaries (including Plato) of being more interested in winning arguments through crafty rhetoric than in pursuing truth.