- 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 sophists
Protagoras had denied the objectivity of truth, and the later Sophists had applied the same theory to morals.
The day is surely over when sophists like Treitschke and callous soldiers like Bernhardi could sing the praises of war.The War and the Churches|Joseph McCabe
Of late years the Sophists have found an enthusiastic defender in the distinguished historian of Greece.Sophist|Plato
The teaching of the Sophists was merely a translation into theoretical propositions of these practical tendencies of the period.
One day he entered the room where these sophists were assembled, and begged them to cease studying the Bible.History of the Reformation in the Sixteenth Century, Volume V|J. H. Merle d'Aubigné
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]
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.