• pharisee •
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. [Pharisee] A member of an ancient Jewish sect that required strict obedience to written and oral Mosaic law. 2. [pharisee] A sanctimonious, self-righteous hypocrite. 3. (Sussex dialect) A fairy.
Notes: Not much to note about pharisee. Remember it begins with a PH for the [f] sound and that the middle vowel is I (i). Pharisee does come with an adjective and adverb: pharisaic(al) and pharisaically, respectively.
In Play: The association of Pharisees with hypocrisy goes back to Jesus himself, who said, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye cleanse the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full from extortion and excess" (Matthew 23:25). In the European languages the word came to mean "sanctimonious hypocrite", though we seldom hear it: "Abner is such a pharisee! He represents himself as an honest financial broker all the while running one big ponzi scheme."
Word History: Today's Good Word comes from Middle English pharise, borrowed from the Old French. Old French inherited the word from Late Latin pharisaeus, the Latin version Greek pharisaios. The word came into the Greek translation of the Bible from Aramaic pêrišayya, the emphatic plural of pêriš "separated, separatist", derived from from pêraš "to separate". (We are thankful to Monika Freund of Wuppertal, who has separated herself out by suggesting today's unusually Good Word.)
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