1 A paid teacher of philosophy and rhetoric in Greece in the Classical and Hellenistic periods, associated in popular thought with moral scepticism and specious reasoning.
1.1 A person who reasons with clever but false arguments.
Mid 16th century: via Latin from Greek sophistēs, from sophizesthai ‘devise, become wise’, from sophos ‘wise’.
Classical Greeks paid sophists to teach philosophy. Today, we pay them for a seminar “How to Get Rich By Spending Other Peoples’ Money”.