Definition of sophisticate in US English:



[with object]
  • 1Make (someone or something) more sophisticated.

    ‘readers who have been sophisticated by modern literary practice’
    ‘functions that other software applications have sophisticated’
    • ‘If Acosta and Nuñez somewhat sophisticated it, two nights later Johan Kobborg and Alina Cojocaru - yet another first-timer - relocated its Arcadian heart.’
    • ‘Work on the densely literary Essay on Irish Bulls sophisticated Edgeworth's approach, by requiring her to reflect on what a nation is when it is less than an autonomous state.’
    1. 1.1archaic no object Talk or reason in an impressively complex and educated manner.
      refined, respectable, polished, decorous, proper, polite, correct, seemly, well mannered, well bred, cultivated, cultured, sophisticated, courteous, ladylike, gentlemanly, civil, elegant, stylish, urbane, civilized, courtly, dignified, gracious, punctilious
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2archaic Mislead or corrupt (a person, an argument, the mind, etc.) by sophistry.
      ‘books of casuistry, which sophisticate the understanding and defile the heart’
      • ‘You can sophisticate or argue God out of your mind, but, speaking broadly and largely, the ordinary person does believe by some inner necessity.’


  • Sophisticated.

    • ‘Celie comes home to visit, looking different - sophisticate and attractive - wearing pants and flowers.’
    • ‘Wine is the sophisticate drink, the drink of kings and the king of drinks, whereas beer is just, you know, the honest drink of the working man.’
    • ‘The sous chef prepares both raw and cooked vegan cuisine for the sophisticate palate at this Florida hot spot.’


  • A person with much worldly experience and knowledge of fashion and culture.

    ‘he is still the butt of jokes made by New York sophisticates’
    • ‘What sweet vindication for urban sophisticates!’
    • ‘Inexpensive areas to live are not, as some sophisticates on the coast suppose, attractive only to dullards and menial workers.’
    • ‘They provide a perfect context for the aestheticized sophisticate, validating his expansive personality and style.’
    • ‘Her characters are sophisticates, in fact or in aspiration.’
    • ‘Over the generations, men who saw themselves as metropolitan sophisticates traveled to America and were suddenly confronted with their own provinciality.’
    • ‘But the illusion that British silky sophisticates can talk the new Romans out of doing something stupid, dies hard in British foreign policy.’
    • ‘There are two cultures in Australia: the jaded, would-be sophisticates of the cities versus the home-grown patriots of the small towns and the bush.’
    • ‘It's for sophisticates who want to get away from it all.’
    • ‘The aim of the ‘culture change’ is perhaps to breed a nation of restrained sophisticates, who enjoy a glass of wine with a meal but don't ever lose their heads.’
    • ‘I loved this vision - defined by urban sophisticates.’
    • ‘If that's the case, then I accept being a faux sophisticate.’
    • ‘The dapper sophisticate, Fred Astaire, once noted: ‘The hardest job kids face today is learning good manners without seeing any.’’
    • ‘That won him the derision of Western sophisticates, intellectuals and defeatists of all kinds.’
    • ‘They are the cosmopolitan sophisticates who recoil in horror from the beery racism of the ignorant underclass.’
    • ‘When sophisticates lost interest, he-ever resourceful-traded his evening suit for a Western hat and chaps and took his Indians to Vaudeville.’
    • ‘As so many urbane sophisticates did before him, Lévy comes to the New World and completely misunderstands the Natives.’
    • ‘And when I heard him speak in Los Angeles last month, it was clear that his authenticity touched just as deep a chord with urban sophisticates.’
    • ‘He makes films not about intellectuals or sophisticates, but about simple people, ordinary people - and he adores them.’
    • ‘In truth, he was a card cheat of remarkable dexterity who routinely cleaned out the sophisticates in games of three-card monte.’
    • ‘All of the sophisticates and cynics insisted that having elections would be a bloody fool's errand.’


Late Middle English (as an adjective in the sense ‘adulterated’, and as a verb in the sense ‘mix with a foreign substance’): from medieval Latin sophisticatus ‘tampered with’, past participle of the verb sophisticare, from sophisticus ‘sophistic’. The shift of sense probably occurred first in the adjective unsophisticated, from ‘uncorrupted’ via ‘innocent’ to ‘inexperienced, uncultured’. The noun dates from the early 20th century.