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[fi-los-uh-fer] /fɪˈlɒs ə fər/
a person who offers views or theories on profound questions in ethics, metaphysics, logic, and other related fields.
a person who is deeply versed in philosophy.
a person who establishes the central ideas of some movement, cult, etc.
a person who regulates his or her life, actions, judgments, utterances, etc., by the light of philosophy or reason.
a person who is rationally or sensibly calm, especially under trying circumstances.
Obsolete. an alchemist or occult scientist.
before 900; Middle English, variant of philosophre < Anglo-French (Middle French philosophe < Latin philosophus); replacing Old English philosoph < Latin philosophus < Greek philósophos philosopher, equivalent to philo- philo- + soph(ía) wisdom (see -sophy) + -os noun suffix
Related forms
philosophership, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for philosophers
  • Earlier philosophers pondered the plurality of worlds with less dire consequences.
  • Bards are at once entertainers, philosophers, and historians.
  • Many ancient philosophers believed that human consciousness resided in the heart.
  • The philosophers have been taking their own temperatures.
  • More and more biographies of philosophers are being written.
  • The next generation of philosophers of science was far less interested in history than my generation.
  • The university brings biologists, historians, and philosophers to speak.
  • It would be great to wrestle with some of the prominent treatments of this dilemma by modern philosophers.
  • It attracts historians, philosophers, and political scientists.
  • philosophers, sociologists, and clergy members would be more appropriate.
British Dictionary definitions for philosophers


a student, teacher, or devotee of philosophy
a person of philosophical temperament, esp one who is patient, wise, and stoical
(formerly) an alchemist or devotee of occult science
a person who establishes the ideology of a cult or movement: the philosopher of the revolution
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for philosophers



from Old English philosophe, from Latin philosophus "philosopher," from Greek philosophos "philosopher, sage, one who speculates on the nature of things and truth," literally "lover of wisdom," from philos "loving" (see -phile) + sophos "wise, a sage" (see sophist). Modern form with -r appears early 14c., from an Anglo-French or Old French variant of philosophe, with an agent-noun ending.

Pythagoras was the first who called himself philosophos, instead of sophos, 'wise man,' since this latter term was suggestive of immodesty. [Klein]
Philosophy also was used of alchemy in Middle Ages, hence Philosophers' stone (late 14c., translating Medieval Latin lapis philosophorum, early 12c.), a reputed solid substance supposed by alchemists to change baser metals into gold or silver; also identified with the elixir and thus given the attribute of prolonging life indefinitely and curing wounds and disease. (French pierre philosophale, German der Stein der Weisen).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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philosophers in Culture

philosopher definition

Someone who engages in philosophy. Some examples of philosophers are Aristotle, Immanuel Kant, and Plato.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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