[ far-uh-see ]
See synonyms for Pharisee on
  1. a member of a Jewish sect that flourished during the 1st century b.c. and 1st century a.d. and that differed from the Sadducees chiefly in its strict observance of religious ceremonies and practices, adherence to oral laws and traditions, and belief in an afterlife and the coming of a Messiah.

  2. (lowercase) a sanctimonious, self-righteous, or hypocritical person.

Origin of Pharisee

before 900; Middle English Pharise, Farise,Old English Farīsēus<Late Latin Pharīsēus, variant of Pharīsaeus<Greek Pharīsaîos<Aramaic pərīshayyā, plural of pərīshā literally, separated

Words Nearby Pharisee Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use Pharisee in a sentence

  • Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup and of the platter, that the outside thereof may become clean also.

    His Last Week | William E. Barton
  • I never see such a flow of language as that bit where he called old Gommy a superannuated Pharisee.

    The Chequers | James Runciman
  • Thus it came to pass that many of these had entered the kingdom, while the self-complacent Pharisee still remained without.

  • Or was he only a subconscious Pharisee, self-deceived and complacent?

    The Quickening | Francis Lynde
  • Evidence of the popular dislike of the conservative Pharisee abounds.

    The Cradle of the Christ | Octavius Brooks Frothingham

British Dictionary definitions for Pharisee


/ (ˈfærɪˌsiː) /

  1. Judaism a member of an ancient Jewish sect that was opposed to the Sadducees, teaching strict observance of Jewish tradition as interpreted rabbinically and believing in life after death and in the coming of the Messiah

  2. (often not capital) a self-righteous or hypocritical person

Origin of Pharisee

Old English Farīsēus, ultimately from Aramaic perīshāiyā, pl of perīsh separated

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