Select Page

July 2, 2022

Philistine / noun / Phi·​lis·​tine

We use the word "philistine" in English as a noun with a multi-part meaning. On the one hand, a philistine denotes a "native or inhabitant of the ancient city of Philistia." Philistia is an ancient kingdom that existed on the western coast of the Mediterranean Sea.

When used to describe the characteristics of a person, "philistine" speaks of a person we see as having shallow values and as "materialistic." As an adjective, "philistine" denotes a person who is ignorant in special areas of knowledge or "an enemy of culture." In popular culture, Matthew Arnold used the term "philistine" to describe "members of the English middle class." He wrote the book titled – Culture and Anarchy in 1869.

In a Sentence

Ancient Philistine was in the area we now call western Egypt or Palestine.

That girl standing over there being antisocial away from the rest of the group is a philistine.

The life of philistine people is often a very lonely one.


Philistine was first recognized as a 14th-century noun meaning “ inhabitants of ancient Philistia.” In the following century, Philistine took on a new definition as an adjective to describe materialistic people or "enemies of the culture" in 1578. Matthew Arnold, a famous author, used the word to reference the English middle class in the late 1800s.


Sycophant, Lowbrow


Caring, Friendly

1 Comment

  1. David

    The declaration that, “Philistia is an ancient kingdom that existed on the western coast of the Mediterranean Sea.” is erroneous. Philistia was situated in Palestine, which is on the EAST coast of the Mediterranean Sea, though Philistia *is* on the western coast of Palestine. The west coast of the Mediterranean Sea is occupied by the Iberian Peninsula and northern Marrakesh.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.