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5 definitions found
 for shibboleth
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.
        [1913 Webster]
              Without reprieve, adjudged to death,
              For want of well pronouncing shibboleth. --Milton.
        [1913 Webster] Also used in an extended sense.
        [1913 Webster]
              The th, with its twofold value, is . . . the
              shibboleth of foreigners.             --Earle.
        [1913 Webster]
     2. Hence, the criterion, test, or watchword of a party; a
        party cry or pet phrase.
        [1913 Webster]

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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