[ 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


an·ti·soph·ist, noun, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

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

Cultural 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.

notes for sophists

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.