The DICT Development Group
5 definitions found
From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 :
Shibboleth \Shib"bo*leth\, n. [Heb. shibb[=o]leth an ear of
corn, or a stream, a flood.]
1. A word which was made the criterion by which to
distinguish the Ephraimites from the Gileadites. The
Ephraimites, not being able to pronounce sh, called the
word sibboleth. See --Judges xii.
Without reprieve, adjudged to death,
For want of well pronouncing shibboleth. --Milton.
[1913 Webster] Also used in an extended sense.
The th, with its twofold value, is . . . the
shibboleth of foreigners. --Earle.
2. Hence, the criterion, test, or watchword of a party; a
party cry or pet phrase.
From WordNet (r) 3.0 (2006) :
n 1: a favorite saying of a sect or political group [syn:
motto, slogan, catchword, shibboleth]
2: a manner of speaking that is distinctive of a particular
group of people
From Moby Thesaurus II by Grady Ward, 1.0 :
26 Moby Thesaurus words for "shibboleth":
banality, bromide, byword, catch phrase, catchword, cliche,
countersign, cry, fad word, jargon, open sesame, password,
pet expression, phrase, platitude, prosaicism, prosaism,
rubber stamp, secret grip, slogan, tag, tessera, token, truism,
vogue word, watchword
From Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary :
river, or an ear of corn. The tribes living on the east of
Jordan, separated from their brethren on the west by the deep
ravines and the rapid river, gradually came to adopt peculiar
customs, and from mixing largely with the Moabites, Ishmaelites,
and Ammonites to pronounce certain letters in such a manner as
to distinguish them from the other tribes. Thus when the
Ephraimites from the west invaded Gilead, and were defeated by
the Gileadites under the leadership of Jephthah, and tried to
escape by the "passages of the Jordan," the Gileadites seized
the fords and would allow none to pass who could not pronounce
"shibboleth" with a strong aspirate. This the fugitives were
unable to do. They said "sibboleth," as the word was pronounced
by the tribes on the west, and thus they were detected (Judg.
12:1-6). Forty-two thousand were thus detected, and
"Without reprieve, adjudged to death,
For want of well-pronouncing shibboleth."
From Hitchcock's Bible Names Dictionary (late 1800's) :
Shibboleth, Sibboleth, ear of corn; stream or flood
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