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Semite

[sem-ahyt or, esp. British, see-mahyt]
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noun
  1. a member of any of various ancient and modern peoples originating in southwestern Asia, including the Akkadians, Canaanites, Phoenicians, Hebrews, and Arabs.
  2. a Jew.
  3. a member of any of the peoples descended from Shem, the eldest son of Noah.
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Origin of Semite

1870–75; < New Latin sēmīta < Late Latin Sēm (< Greek Sḗm < Hebrew Shēm Shem) + -īta -ite1
Related formsnon-Sem·ite, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for semite

Historical Examples

  • But the worship of which blood is the tie is not to the Aryan, as to the Semite, the whole of religion.

    History of Religion

    Allan Menzies

  • The Being in whom that fulness of light was revealed,—was he not a Semite of the Semites?

  • The Semite has been and still is the priest to all Arya, by the deepest necessity of the spirit.

    Homer's Odyssey

    Denton J. Snider

  • These took to it kindly, for they had the Semite's born instinct for trading.

  • The religion of the Semite was essentially different from that of the Sumerian.

    A Primer of Assyriology

    Archibald Henry Sayce


British Dictionary definitions for semite

Semite

less commonly Shemite

noun
  1. a member of the group of Caucasoid peoples who speak a Semitic language, including the Jews and Arabs as well as the ancient Babylonians, Assyrians, and Phoenicians
  2. another word for a Jew
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Word Origin

C19: from New Latin sēmīta descendant of Shem, via Greek Sēm, from Hebrew Shem
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 semite

Semite

n.

1847, "a Jew, Arab, Assyrian, or Aramaean" (an apparently isolated use from 1797 refers to the Semitic language group), back-formation from Semitic or else from French Sémite (1845), from Modern Latin Semita, from Late Latin Sem "Shem," one of the three sons of Noah (Gen. x:21-30), regarded as the ancestor of the Semites (in old Bible-based anthropology), from Hebrew Shem. In modern sense said to have been first used by German historian August Schlözer in 1781.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

semite in Culture

Semite

[(sem-eyet)]

Someone who belongs to the Semitic peoples. The Semites are supposedly descended from the biblical Shem, the eldest son of Noah.

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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.