a person who does not like or understand art, literature, music, etc. In artistic matters he’s a complete philistine. She dismissed critics of her work as philistines. Word Originfrom French Philistin, via late Latin from Greek Philistinos, from Hebrew pělištī. The current sense arose as a result of a confrontation between town and gown in Jena, Germany, in the late 17th cent.; a sermon on the conflict quoted from the Bible: “the Philistines are upon you” (Judges 16), which led to an association between the townspeople and those hostile to culture.