[fil-uh-steen, -stahyn, fi-lis-tin, -teen]
  1. (sometimes initial capital letter) a person who is lacking in or hostile or smugly indifferent to cultural values, intellectual pursuits, aesthetic refinement, etc., or is contentedly commonplace in ideas and tastes.
  2. (initial capital letter) a native or inhabitant of ancient Philistia.
  1. (sometimes initial capital letter) lacking in or hostile to culture.
  2. smugly commonplace or conventional.
  3. (initial capital letter) of or belonging to the ancient Philistines.

Origin of philistine

1350–1400; Middle English < Late Latin Philistīnī (plural) < Late Greek Philistînoi < Hebrew pəlishtīm
Related formsphil·is·tin·ism [fil-uh-stee-niz-uhm, -stahy-, fi-lis-tuh-niz-uhm, -tee-] /ˈfɪl ə stiˌnɪz əm, -staɪ-, fɪˈlɪs təˌnɪz əm, -ti-/, noun

Synonyms for philistine Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for philistines

Contemporary Examples of philistines

  • He was wrong, of course, even scripturally: the Philistines loved Goliath.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Shaq, Year One

    Charles P. Pierce

    May 24, 2014

Historical Examples of philistines

  • As for the war between the Philistines and the Jews, it never came to an end.

    Ancient Man

    Hendrik Willem van Loon

  • She accordingly removed with her family into the land of the Philistines.

  • Not one among them dares to give the philistines a slap in the face.

    His Masterpiece

    Emile Zola

  • I was in Gaza, gagged and bound; the Philistines hemmed me in.

    The Golden Age

    Kenneth Grahame

  • "The Philistines be upon thee, Samson," cried Csar, and with that there was a struggle.

    The Manxman

    Hall Caine

British Dictionary definitions for philistines


  1. a person who is unreceptive to or hostile towards culture, the arts, etc; a smug boorish person
  2. a member of the non-Semitic people who inhabited ancient Philistia
  1. (sometimes not capital) boorishly uncultured
  2. of or relating to the ancient Philistines
Derived FormsPhilistinism (ˈfɪlɪstɪˌnɪzəm), noun
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 philistines


Old Testament people of coastal Palestine who made war on the Israelites, early 14c., from Old French Philistin, from Late Latin Philistinus, from Late Greek Philistinoi (plural), from Hebrew P'lishtim, "people of P'lesheth" ("Philistia"); cf. Akkad. Palastu, Egyptian Palusata; the word probably is the people's name for itself.



"person deficient in liberal culture," 1827, originally in Carlyle, popularized by him and Matthew Arnold, from German Philister "enemy of God's word," literally "Philistine," inhabitants of a Biblical land, neighbors (and enemies) of Israel (see Philistine). Popularized in German student slang (supposedly first in Jena, late 17c.) as a contemptuous term for "townies," and hence, by extension, "any uncultured person." Philistine had been used in a humorous figurative sense of "the enemy" in English from c.1600.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

philistines in Culture


[(fil-uh-steenz, fi-lis-tinz, fi-lis-teenz)]

In the Old Testament, enemies of the Israelites in their settlement in the Promised Land. (See David and Samson.)


A “philistine” has come to mean a person who is ignorant and uncultured.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.