[ sof-ist ]
/ ˈsɒf ɪst /


(often initial capital letter) Greek History.
  1. any of a class of professional teachers in ancient Greece who gave instruction in various fields, as in general culture, rhetoric, politics, or disputation.
  2. 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.
a person who reasons adroitly and speciously rather than soundly.
a philosopher.

Origin of sophist

1535–45; < Latin sophista < Greek sophistḗs sage, derivative of sophízesthai

Related forms

an·ti·soph·ist, noun, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for sophists

British Dictionary definitions for sophists


/ (ˈsɒfɪst) /


(often capital) one of the pre-Socratic philosophers who were itinerant professional teachers of oratory and argument and who were prepared to enter into debate on any matter however specious
a person who uses clever or quibbling arguments that are fundamentally unsound

Word Origin for sophist

C16: from Latin sophista, from Greek sophistēs a wise man, from sophizesthai to act craftily
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

Culture definitions for sophists


[ (sof-ists) ]

Ancient Greek teachers who were accused by some of their contemporaries (including Plato) of being more interested in winning arguments through crafty rhetoric than in pursuing truth.


By extension, a “sophist” is someone who engages in persuasive but false arguments.
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.