Shib"bo*leth (?), n. [Heb. shibb&omac;leth an ear of corn, or a stream, a flood.]


A word which was made the criterion by which to distinguish the Ephraimites from the Gileadites. The Ephraimites, not being able to pronounce sh, called the word sibboleth. See Judges xii.

Without reprieve, adjudged to death,
For want of well pronouncing shibboleth. Milton.

Also in an extended sense.

The th, with its twofold value, is . . . the shibboleth of foreigners. Earle.


Hence, the criterion, test, or watchword of a party; a party cry or pet phrase.


© Webster 1913.