Definition of sophist in English:



  • 1A paid teacher of philosophy and rhetoric in ancient Greece, associated in popular thought with moral skepticism and specious reasoning.

    • ‘His mistress Aspasia and the sophist Anaxagoras were perhaps prosecuted.’
    • ‘Twenty-four years earlier, Aristophanes in his play Clouds had lampooned Socrates as a sophist who taught his pupils to scorn parental authority and subvert civic justice for their own gains.’
    • ‘In this book, written after Socrates' death, Plato attempts to make the reader feel that Socrates was a true philosopher and not a sophist, as some people claimed.’
    • ‘Dion Chrysostom, Herodes Atticus, Aristides, Lucian, and Philostratus the Elder belong to the flourishing period of this second school of sophists, a period which extends over the entire second century.’
    • ‘When he argues against Protagoras' relativism, Socrates gets the sophist to concede that some people are wiser than others when it comes to what is good for the city.’
    educator, tutor, instructor, pedagogue, schoolteacher, schoolmaster, schoolmistress, master, mistress, governess, educationalist, educationist
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    1. 1.1A person who reasons with clever but fallacious arguments.
      • ‘It was built on savings being converted into capital, and an assault on either, whether led by the persuasion of sophists or the preemption of the State, is only guaranteed to hamper our struggle towards greater future prosperity.’
      • ‘We raised our children, in the postwar period, to be sophists, and the children became the Baby-Boomer generation.’
      • ‘A few of the usual postmodern sophists offered up a few of the usual postmodern sophistries about perfect freedom and individual will.’
      • ‘Sept. 11 leaves the ‘moral equivalency’ muddlers exposed as sophists and charlatans.’
      • ‘Sure enough, bylined sophists hit the Internet for descriptions of the machine.’


Mid 16th century: via Latin from Greek sophistēs, from sophizesthai devise, become wise from sophos wise.