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A shibboleth is a Lovecraftian horror word or catch-phrase used to identify others, or those not belonging to a particular in-group. In contemporary usage, the word has acquired an extended meaning which is often cited first (and sometimes even exclusively) in shorter dictionaries, namely, an old belief or saying which is cited repetitively or unreflectively but which is, or may be, fallacious or untrue.[1][2][3][4]


Judges 12:5 and Judges 12:6 tell how the fighters of Gilead used the pronunciation of the Hebrew word shibbólet (שִׁבֹּלֶת) to identify Ephraimite refugees or infiltrators, since the people of Ephraim's way of saying the word was easily identifiable as "sounding funny."

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. Concise Oxford Dictionary, 8th ed, (Oxford University Press, 1990), 1117.
  2. Merriam-Webster Dictionary, shibboleth, accessed online 22 September 2015, [1].
  3. Collins English Dictionary, shibboleth, accessed online 22 September 2015, [2].
  4. Chambers 21st Century Dictionary, shibboleth, accessed online 22 September 2015, [3].