Simple Definition of shibboleth
: an old idea, opinion, or saying that is commonly believed and repeated but that may be seen as old-fashioned or untrue
: a word or way of speaking or behaving which shows that a person belongs to a particular group
Full Definition of shibboleth
1a : a word or saying used by adherents of a party, sect, or belief and usually regarded by others as empty of real meaning <the old shibboleths come rolling off their lips — Joseph Epstein>b : a widely held belief <today this book publishing shibboleth is a myth — L. A. Wood>c : truism, platitude <some truth in the shibboleth that crime does not pay — Lee Rogow>
2a : a use of language regarded as distinctive of a particular group <accent was…a shibboleth of social class — Vivian Ducat>b : a custom or usage regarded as distinguishing one group from others <for most of the well-to-do in the town, dinner was a shibboleth, its hour dividing mankind — Osbert Sitwell>
Examples of shibboleth
She repeated the old shibboleth that time heals all wounds.
<we knew that their claim of giving “the best deal in town” was just a shibboleth>
Origin of shibboleth
Hebrew shibbōleth stream; from the use of this word in Judg 12:6 as a test to distinguish Gileadites from Ephraimites
First Known Use: 1638
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