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fem. proper name, from Greek sophia "skill, knowledge of, acquaintance with; sound judgement, practical wisdom; cunning, shrewdness; philosophy," also "wisdom personified," abstract noun from sophos "wise" (see sophist). Saint Sophia in ancient church names and place names in the East is not necessarily a reference to a person; the phrase also is the English translation of the Greek for "divine wisdom, holy wisdom," to which churches were dedicated.