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Semitic

[suh-mit-ik]
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noun
  1. a subfamily of Afroasiatic languages that includes Akkadian, Arabic, Aramaic, Ethiopic, Hebrew, and Phoenician.
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adjective
  1. of or relating to the Semites or their languages, especially of or pertaining to the Jews.
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Origin of Semitic

< New Latin sēmīticus, equivalent to sēmīt(a) Semite + -icus -ic
Related formshalf-Se·mit·ic, adjectivenon-Se·mit·ic, adjectivepre-Se·mit·ic, adjective, nounpseu·do-Se·mit·ic, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for semitic

Semitic

less commonly Shemitic

noun
  1. a branch or subfamily of the Afro-Asiatic family of languages that includes Arabic, Hebrew, Aramaic, Amharic, and such ancient languages as Akkadian and Phoenician
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adjective
  1. denoting, relating to, or belonging to this group of languages
  2. denoting, belonging to, or characteristic of any of the peoples speaking a Semitic language, esp the Jews or the Arabs
  3. another word for Jewish
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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 semitic

Semitic

adj.

1797, denoting the language group that includes Hebrew, Arabic, Aramaic, Assyrian, etc.; 1826 as "of or pertaining to Semites," from Medieval Latin Semiticus (source of Spanish semitico, French semitique, German semitisch), from Semita (see Semite). As a noun, as the name of a linguistic family, from 1813. In non-linguistic use, perhaps directly from German semitisch. In recent use often with the specific sense "Jewish," but not historically so limited.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

semitic in Culture

Semitic

[(suh-mit-ik)]

A descriptive term for several peoples of the Middle East and their descendants, including Jews (see also Jews) and Arabs (see Arab-Israeli conflict). Today the term is mainly applied to Jews. (See anti-Semitism.)

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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.