"That's a great deal to make one word mean," Alice said in a thoughtful tone. "When I make a word do a lot of work like that," said Humpty Dumpty, "I always pay it extra."

Friday, 15 October 2010


A shibboleth is a manner of speaking that is distinctive of a particular group of people; any distinguishing practice which is indicative of one's social or regional origin. It usually refers to features of language, and particularly to a word whose pronunciation identifies its speaker as being a member or not a member of a particular group.


  1. Hmmm... the word sounds familiar but I can not put my finger on it. It is of Hebraic origin, isn't it?

  2. Yes. It does have it's origins in Hebrew. Oddly I know that because it formed the basis for an episode of that excellent US TV series West Wing: the only US TV series I have ever thought worth watching (All seven series, beginning to end, twice.)