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Definition of "shibboleth" [shib•bo•leth]

  • A word or pronunciation that distinguishes people of one group or class from those of another. (noun)
  • A word or phrase identified with a particular group or cause; a catchword. (noun)
  • A commonplace saying or idea. (noun)
  • A custom or practice that betrays one as an outsider. (noun)

American Heritage(R) Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright (c) 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Use "shibboleth" in a sentence
  • "In English the Hebrew word shibboleth now sometimes refers to clichés or tired slogans."
  • "I've read the word shibboleth a hundred times, written it a few, and probably even said it myself, but I had never understood it until then."
  • "The word shibboleth in ancient Hebrew dialects meant 'ear of grain' (or, some say, 'stream')."