"person deficient in liberal culture," 1827, originally in Carlyle, popularized by him and Matthew Arnold, from Ger. Philister "enemy of God's word," lit. "Philistine," inhabitants of a Biblical land, neighbors (and enemies) of Israel (see Philistine
). Popularized in
Ger. student slang (supposedly first in Jena, late 17c.) as a contemptuous term for "townies," and hence, by extension, "any uncultured person." Philistine had been used in a humorous fig. sense of "the enemy" in Eng. from c.1600.