Definition of Pharisee in English:



  • 1A member of an ancient Jewish sect, distinguished by strict observance of the traditional and written law, and commonly held to have pretensions to superior sanctity.

    • ‘He had to make allies with the Pharisees, the Jewish high priests of the temple, because he needed some help in governing.’
    • ‘As to the framework of his history, Jesus and Judaism are inseparably entwined; he appears closer to the Pharisees than to other Jewish groups in the first century.’
    • ‘Saul was a devout Jew, a Pharisee, a teacher of the law, a member of the Sanhedrin, a believer in the Jehovah of Israel and looked for the coming Messiah.’
    • ‘He asked the Jewish leaders, the Pharisees and Sadducees, to repent from their evil ways.’
    • ‘Nicodemus, mentioned only in the Gospel of John, was a Pharisee and probably a member of the Sanhedrin, the highest governing body.’
    1. 1.1 A self-righteous or hypocritical person.
      • ‘The Pharisees and hypocrites in the British press should repent their calumnies.’
      • ‘Though the hypocrites and Pharisees that run the Republican party will have a hard time understanding this, Jesus would have understood it immediately.’
      • ‘The hypocrites and Pharisees of the Republican Party are exactly the sorts of people Jesus warned us against.’
      sanctimonious person, pietist, whited sepulchre, plaster saint, humbug, pretender, deceiver, dissembler, impostor
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Old English fariseus, via ecclesiastical Latin from Greek Pharisaios, from Aramaic prīšayyā ‘separated ones’ (related to Hebrew pārūš ‘separated’).