- The definition of a shibboleth is a password or test phrase.
An example of a shibboleth is a phrase used by a guest to get into a Masonic club.
- the test word used by the men of Gilead to distinguish the escaping Ephraimites, who pronounced the initial (s̸h) as (s): Judg. 12:4-6
- any test word or password
- any phrase, custom, etc. distinctive of a particular party, class, etc.
Origin: Middle English sebolech, after Ecclesiastical Late Latin sciboleth from Classical Hebrew (language) shibolet, a stream: present tense meaning from the use of the word as a test word
Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
- A word or pronunciation that distinguishes people of one group or class from those of another.
- a. A word or phrase identified with a particular group or cause; a catchword.b. A commonplace saying or idea.
- A custom or practice that betrays one as an outsider.
Origin: Ultimately from Hebrew šibbōlet, torrent of water, from the use of this word to distinguish one tribe from another that pronounced it sibbōlet (Judges 12:4-6).
shibboleth - Cultural Definition
In the Old Testament, shibboleth was a password used by the Israelites. It was chosen because their enemies could not pronounce it.
- By extension, a shibboleth is an often-repeated slogan. It also means an arbitrary test to prove membership in a group.