Definition of shibboleth noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary

     

    shibboleth

     noun
    noun
    NAmE//ˈʃɪbələθ//
     
    , NAmE//ˈʃɪbəˌlɛθ//
     
    (formal)
     
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  1. 1 an old idea, principle, or phrase that is no longer accepted by many people as important or appropriate to modern life the crumbling of old political shibboleths
  2. 2a custom, word, etc. that distinguishes one group of people from another From a Hebrew word meaning “ear of corn.” In the Bible story, Jephthah, the leader of the Gileadites, was able to use it as a test to tell which were his own men, because others found the “sh” sound difficult to pronounce.
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: shibboleth