- 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.
Origin of sophist
Examples from the Web for sophist
If his Ethicist gig ever winds up feeling too constricting, he can always launch a column called The Sophist.Forget the Wife Beating—Are You Ready for Some Football?|Steve Almond|September 11, 2014|DAILY BEAST
The one acts like a sophist, the other like a true man of genius.Fundamental Philosophy, Vol. I (of 2)|Jaime Luciano Balmes
"And you did not even see him at his best," exclaimed Favorinus, the Gaul, the sophist and rhetorician.The Emperor, Complete|Georg Ebers
We see that the man whose success is merely personal—the actor, the sophist, the millionaire, the aesthete—is incurably vulgar.Soliloquies in England|George Santayana
Word Origin for sophist
"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]