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attested about 1400 in the sense "make impure by admixture", from Medieval Latin sophisticatus, past participle of sophisticare (see sophistication). From about 1600 as "corrupt, delude by sophistry"; from 1796 as "deprive of simplicity". Related: sophisticated, sophisticating. As a noun meaning "sophisticated person" from 1921.


  • Noun and adjective:
  • Verb:


sophisticate (plural sophisticates)

  1. A worldly-wise person.
    • Spongebob Squarepants, episode Sailor Mouth
      Patrick: Because classy sophisticates like us should not stain our lips with cursing.
      SpongeBob: Yea verily!


sophisticate (third-person singular simple present sophisticates, present participle sophisticating, simple past and past participle sophisticated)

  1. (transitive) To make less natural or innocent.
    • 1956–1960, R.S. Peters, The Concept of Motivation, Routledge & Kegan Paul (second edition, 1960), chapter ii: “Motives and Motivation”, page 38:
      Psychologists have developed quasi-causal theories to explain the directedness of behaviour, to answer the question ‘Why are certain sorts of reasons operative?’ and these theories may well have insinuated themselves into ordinary language as part of the meaning of “motive”. It might well be, therefore, that people who are slightly sophisticated by psychological theories assume some such necessary connexion [between giving the motive for an action and making any assertions of a causal kind about a man’s emotional state].
  2. To practice sophistry; change the meaning of, or be vague about in order to mislead or deceive.
    • Southey
      to sophisticate the understanding
    • Matthew Arnold
      Yet Butler professes to stick to plain facts, not to sophisticate, not to refine.
  3. (transitive) To alter and make impure, as with the intention to deceive.
    • Howell
      to sophisticate wine
    • Dryden
      They purchase but sophisticated ware.
  4. (transitive) To make more complex or refined.



sophisticate (comparative more sophisticate, superlative most sophisticate)

  1. Adulterated; not pure; not genuine.
    • Dryden
      So truth, while only one supplied the state, / Grew scarce and dear, and yet sophisticate.