shibboleth
Definition - A pronunciation that distinguishes one group of people from another.

Example -
The word Shibboleth itself, as related in the etymology and quotation below.

Etymology -
The word derives from the Hebrew shibboleth, stream in a flood. As related in Judges XII:4-6, the men of Gilead used the word shibboleth to distinguish their own men from fleeing Ephraimites, because the Ephraimites couldn't pronounce the sh sound.

Oxford English Dictionary -
Its first citation is from 1382:
"Thei askiden hym, Seye thanne Sebolech."
(Wyclif Judges XII:4-6 )

Quotation -
"Then said they unto him, Say now Shibboleth: and he said Sibboleth: for he could not frame to pronounce [it] right. Then they took him, and slew him at the passages of Jordan: and there fell at that time of the Ephraimites forty and two thousand."
(Source: King James Bible, Judges 12:6)



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