soph·​ist ˈsä-fist How to pronounce sophist (audio)
capitalized : any of a class of ancient Greek teachers of rhetoric, philosophy, and the art of successful living prominent about the middle of the fifth century b.c. for their adroit subtle and allegedly often specious reasoning
: a captious or fallacious reasoner

Examples of sophist in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web And if the exposition of the counter-intuitive position is placed in the hands of a cunning sophist, and the one who endorses common sense is plain and less learned, then the battle is already lost before it is begun. Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 3 Jan. 2013 The hybrid of the Post Modern inflected scholar and public intellectual is ultimately a gnostic sophist of the highest order, transmuting plain if unpalatable truths about the world into a murky cultic potion. Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 29 Dec. 2011 In Plato’s most famous dialogue, the Republic, Socrates falls into conversation with the bold and intimidating Thrasymachus, who is a sophist—that is, one who offers instructions on how to argue a case, no matter its merit. Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, WSJ, 15 Mar. 2018 Not even the most shameless sophist will argue that anything like that happened. Hugh Hewitt, The Denver Post, 10 Mar. 2017

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'sophist.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin sophista, from Greek sophistēs, literally, expert, wise man, from sophizesthai to become wise, deceive, from sophos clever, wise

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of sophist was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near sophist

Cite this Entry

“Sophist.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


soph·​ist ˈsäf-əst How to pronounce sophist (audio)
: one who argues by the use of sophisms

More from Merriam-Webster on sophist

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!