shibboleth late 14c., the Hebrew word shibboleth "flood, stream," also "ear of corn," in Judges xii:4-6. It was the password used by the Gileadites to distinguish their own men from fleeing Ephraimites, because Ephraimites could not pronounce the -sh- sound. Figurative sense of "watchword" is first recorded 1630s, and it evolved by 1862 to "outmoded slogan still adhered to." A similar test-word was cicera "chick pease," used by the Italians to identify the French (who could not pronounce it correctly) during the massacre called the Sicilian Vespers (1282).

Etymology dictionary. 2014.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • Shibboleth — (IPAEng|ˈʃɪbəlɛθcite encyclopedia|ency=Oxford English Dictionary|edition=second|year=1989|article=shibboleth] or IPAEng|ˈʃɪbələθcite web|work=Merriam Webster Online Dictionary |title=shibboleth |url=http://m] ) is any… …   Wikipedia

  • Shibboleth — se refiere a cualquier uso de la lengua indicativo del origen social o regional de una persona, y de forma más amplia cualquier práctica que identifique a los miembros de un grupo, una especie de santo y seña. Etimología Su origen es la palabra… …   Wikipedia Español

  • 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… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • shibboleth — The primary meaning in current English is ‘a custom or phrase that distinguishes a particular class or group of people’, either one approved of or one deprecated in others • (Apparently, to wear a hat in the cafeteria was a student shibboleth I.… …   Modern English usage

  • shibboleth — index catchword Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • shibboleth — *catchword, byword, slogan …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • shibboleth — ► NOUN ▪ a custom, principle, or belief distinguishing a particular class or group of people. ORIGIN originally in the sense «a word or sound which a foreigner is unable to pronounce»: from Hebrew, ear of corn (according to the Book of Judges,… …   English terms dictionary

  • shibboleth — [shib′ə leth΄, shib′ələth] n. [ME sebolech, after LL(Ec) sciboleth < Heb shibolet, a stream: pres. meaning from the use of the word as a test word] 1. the test word used by the men of Gilead to distinguish the escaping Ephraimites, who… …   English World dictionary

  • Shibboleth — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Shibboleth (homonymie). Un shibboleth (ou schibboleth (שבולת en hébreu, prononcé [ʃibɔ …   Wikipédia en Français

  • shibboleth — noun Etymology: Hebrew shibbōleth stream; from the use of this word in Judges 12:6 as a test to distinguish Gileadites from Ephraimites Date: 1638 1. a. a word or saying used by adherents of a party, sect, or belief and usually regarded by others …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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