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Definition of pharisee


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phar·i·see  audio  (fr-s) KEY 

NOUN:
  1. Pharisee A member of an ancient Jewish sect that emphasized strict interpretation and observance of the Mosaic law in both its oral and written form.
  2. A hypocritically self-righteous person.

ETYMOLOGY:
Middle English pharise, from Old English fariseus, and from Old French pharise both from Late Latin pharsaeus, from Greek pharsaios, from Aramaic priayy, pl. of pri, separate, from pra, to separate; see pr in Semitic roots


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