E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
meaning the ill-behaved and ignorant. The word so applied arose in Germany from the Charlies or Philisters, who were in everlasting collision with the students; and in these town and gown rows identified themselves with the town, called in our universities the snobs. Matthew Arnold, in the Cornhill Magazine, applied the term Philistine to the middle class, which he says is ignorant, narrow-minded, and deficient in great ideas, insomuch that the middle-class English are objects of contempt in the eyes of foreigners.