Meaning of Pharisee in English:


Pronunciation /ˈfarɪsiː/

Translate Pharisee into Spanish


  • 1A member of an ancient Jewish sect, distinguished by strict observance of the traditional and written law, and commonly held to have pretensions to superior sanctity.

    ‘He asked the Jewish leaders, the Pharisees and Sadducees, to repent from their evil ways.’
    • ‘He had to make allies with the Pharisees, the Jewish high priests of the temple, because he needed some help in governing.’
    • ‘As to the framework of his history, Jesus and Judaism are inseparably entwined; he appears closer to the Pharisees than to other Jewish groups in the first century.’
    • ‘Saul was a devout Jew, a Pharisee, a teacher of the law, a member of the Sanhedrin, a believer in the Jehovah of Israel and looked for the coming Messiah.’
    • ‘Nicodemus, mentioned only in the Gospel of John, was a Pharisee and probably a member of the Sanhedrin, the highest governing body.’
    1. 1.1A self-righteous or hypocritical person.
      ‘Though the hypocrites and Pharisees that run the Republican party will have a hard time understanding this, Jesus would have understood it immediately.’
      • ‘The hypocrites and Pharisees of the Republican Party are exactly the sorts of people Jesus warned us against.’
      • ‘The Pharisees and hypocrites in the British press should repent their calumnies.’
      sanctimonious person, pietist, whited sepulchre, plaster saint, humbug, pretender, deceiver, dissembler, impostor

The Pharisees are mentioned only by Josephus and in the New Testament. Unlike the Sadducees, who tried to apply Mosaic law strictly, the Pharisees allowed some freedom of interpretation. Although in the Gospels they are represented as the chief opponents of Christ they seem to have been less hostile than the Sadducees to the nascent Church, with which they shared belief in the Resurrection


Old English fariseus, via ecclesiastical Latin from Greek Pharisaios, from Aramaic prīšayyā ‘separated ones’ (related to Hebrew pārūš ‘separated’).