from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun An attitude of smug ignorance and conventionalism, especially toward artistic and cultural values.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun The character or views of Philistines. See Philistine, 3, 4.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun Recent The condition, character, aims, and habits of the class called Philistines. See Philistine, 3.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a desire for wealth and material possessions with little interest in ethical or spiritual matters


Sorry, no etymologies found.


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  • The middle class in Matthew Arnold's time was no doubt deplorably blind to artistic values; its productions survive to convict it of what he called Philistinism; but it is no longer devoid of taste or indifferent to beauty.

    Cambridge Essays on Education

  • He opposes everything which we are accustomed to understand under the name Philistinism -- musty pedantry, provincialism, petty etiquette, narrow criticism, false prudery, smug complacency, arrogant dignity, and whatever names may be applied to all these unclean spirits, whose name is Legion.

    The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 02 Masterpieces of German Literature Translated into English. in Twenty Volumes

  • Far more than by the helplessness of an aristocracy whose day is fast coming to an end, far more than by the rawness of a lower class whose day is only just beginning, we are emperilled by what I call the "Philistinism" of our middle class.

    Celtic Literature

  • The fact is that what I have done in establishing a number of current phrases, such as Philistinism, Sweetness and Light, and all that is just the thing to strike him.”

    Matthew Arnold

  • And you have invented phrases which every one quotes -- such as 'Philistinism' and 'Sweetness and Light.'"

    Collections and Recollections

  • She unleashed a lengthy review in The New Yorker, dated October 21, in which she not only praised the picture to the sky, but jeered at its detractors, accusing them of stupidity, Philistinism, and worse.


  • If he had given himself up to his amorous emotions he would have been Romeo, if to his hatred of the world he would have been Timon, if to his Philistinism he would have been Henry the Fifth, and if to the near ally of his wit he would have been King Lear.

    Later Articles and Reviews

  • First he had not sufficient command of English to translate with the necessary laconism and assonance: secondly in his day British Philistinism was too rampant to permit a literal translation.

    The Book of The Thousand Nights And A Night

  • I have long thought it possible, probable even, in the present state of society in England, where we are still more or less under the heel of the illiterate and prudish Philistinism of our middle class, that I might be had up to answer some charge of publishing an indecent book.

    Oscar Wilde, His Life and Confessions

  • Confronting 21st Century Philistinism 2004 reviews

    Archive 2007-09-01


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