a member of an ancient Jewish sect, distinguished by strict observance of the traditional and written law, and commonly held to have pretensions to superior sanctity.
• a self-righteous person; a hypocrite.
The Pharisees are mentioned only by Josephus and in the New Testament. Unlike the Sadducees, who tried to apply Mosaic law strictly, the Pharisees allowed some freedom of interpretation. Although in the Gospels they are represented as the chief opponents of Jesus, they seem to have been less hostile than the Sadducees to the nascent Church, with which they shared belief in the Resurrection.
Pharisaic |ˌfarəˈsāik| adjective
Pharisaical |ˌfarəˈsāikəl| adjective
Pharisaism |-sāˌizəm| noun
ORIGIN Old English fariseus, via ecclesiastical Latin from Greek Pharisaios, from Aramaic prīšayyā ‘separated ones’ (related to Hebrew pārūš ‘separated’ ).