phi·​lip·​pic | \ fə-ˈli-pik How to pronounce philippic (audio) \

Definition of philippic

: a discourse or declamation full of bitter condemnation : tirade

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In 351 B.C., the Greek orator Demosthenes delivered a fiery speech warning his countrymen against the imperialistic designs of Philip II, king of Macedon, and chastising them for their timidity and inaction. In Greek, this and subsequent such speeches on the subject made by Demosthenes were known as philippikoi logoi, literally, "speeches relating to Philip." Demosthenes is known to have delivered only three Philippics; in contrast, the Philippics of the Roman statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero attacking Marc Antony some 300 years later - orationes philippicae in Latin (so-named because of their similarity to Demosthenes' orations) - numbered fourteen. We still capitalize the word when we refer to these famous diatribes, but ever since 1592, philippic has been used (usually in lowercase) in a broader sense as well.

Examples of philippic in a Sentence

the head coach was briefly suspended after launching into a foul-mouthed philippic during a press conference

First Known Use of philippic

1592, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for philippic

Middle French philippique, from Latin & Greek; Latin philippica, orationes philippicae, speeches of Cicero against Mark Antony, translation of Greek philippikoi logoi, speeches of Demosthenes against Philip II of Macedon, literally, speeches relating to Philip

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The first known use of philippic was in 1592

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Cite this Entry

“Philippic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Mar. 2021.

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