A shibboleth is like a motto or catchphrase that members of a group tend to say, like the conservative shibboleth that the only good government is a small government.

Shibboleth comes all the way from Hebrew, and originally meant a special word that helped you find out if someone was part of your group, almost like a secret handshake. It still has that sense of identifying someone as a member of a group. Sometimes it also means "platitude" or "truism," a phrase that is so common everyone thinks it's true, like "crime doesn't pay," or "all dogs go to heaven."

Definitions of shibboleth

n a favorite saying of a sect or political group

catchword, motto, slogan
catch phrase, catchphrase
a phrase that has become a catchword
a commonly repeated word or phrase
battle cry, cry, rallying cry, war cry, watchword
a slogan used to rally support for a cause
Type of:
expression, locution, saying
a word or phrase that particular people use in particular situations

n a manner of speaking that is distinctive of a particular group of people

Type of:
delivery, manner of speaking, speech
your characteristic style or manner of expressing yourself orally

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