Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary

nihilism

play
noun ni·hil·ism \ˈnī-(h)ə-ˌli-zəm, ˈnē-\

Simple Definition of nihilism

  • : the belief that traditional morals, ideas, beliefs, etc., have no worth or value

  • : the belief that a society's political and social institutions are so bad that they should be destroyed

Full Definition of nihilism

  1. 1 a :  a viewpoint that traditional values and beliefs are unfounded and that existence is senseless and useless b :  a doctrine that denies any objective ground of truth and especially of moral truths

  2. 2 a :  a doctrine or belief that conditions in the social organization are so bad as to make destruction desirable for its own sake independent of any constructive program or possibility b capitalized :  the program of a 19th century Russian party advocating revolutionary reform and using terrorism and assassination

ni·hil·ist play \-list\ noun or adjective
ni·hil·is·tic play \ˌnī-(h)ə-ˈlis-tik, ˌnē-\ adjective

Origin of nihilism

German Nihilismus, from Latin nihil nothing — more at nil


First Known Use: circa 1817

Rhymes with nihilism

absurdism, activism, Adventism, alarmism, albinism, alpinism, anarchism, aneurysm, anglicism, animism, aphorism, Arabism, archaism, asterism, atavism, atheism, atomism, atticism, Bahaism, barbarism, Benthamism, biblicism, blackguardism, bolshevism, boosterism, botulism, bourbonism, Brahmanism, Briticism, Caesarism, Calvinism, can-do-ism, careerism, Castroism, cataclysm, catechism, Catharism, centralism, chauvinism, chimerism, classicism, communism, concretism, conformism, cretinism, criticism, cronyism, cynicism, dadaism, dandyism, Darwinism, defeatism, de Gaullism, despotism, die-hardism, dimorphism, Docetism, do-goodism, dogmatism, Donatism, Don Juanism, druidism, dynamism, egoism, elitism, embolism, endemism, erethism, ergotism, erotism, escapism, Essenism, etatism, eunuchism, euphemism, euphuism, exorcism, expertism, extremism, fairyism, familism, fatalism, feminism, feudalism, fideism, fogyism, foreignism, formalism, futurism, gallicism, galvanism, gangsterism, genteelism, Germanism, giantism, gigantism, globalism, gnosticism, Gongorism, Gothicism, gourmandism, gradualism, grangerism, greenbackism, Hasidism, heathenism, Hebraism, hedonism, Hellenism, herbalism, hermetism, hermitism, heroism, highbrowism, Hinduism, hipsterism, hirsutism, hispanism, Hitlerism, hoodlumism, hoodooism, hucksterism, humanism, Hussitism, hybridism, hypnotism, Ibsenism, idealism, imagism, Irishism, Islamism, Jansenism, jim crowism, jingoism, journalism, John Bullism, Judaism, Junkerism, kabbalism, kaiserism, Krishnaism, Ku Kluxism, laconism, laicism, Lamaism, Lamarckism, landlordism, Latinism, legalism, Leninism, lobbyism, localism, locoism, Lollardism, luminism, lyricism, magnetism, mammonism, mannerism, Marcionism, masochism, mechanism, melanism, meliorism, Menshevism, Mendelism, mentalism, methodism, me-tooism, modernism, Mohockism, monachism, monadism, monarchism, mongolism, Montanism, moralism, Mormonism, morphinism, mullahism, mysticism, narcissism, nationalism, nativism, nepotism, neutralism, NIMBYism, nomadism, occultism, onanism, optimism, oralism, Orangeism, organism, ostracism, pacifism, paganism, Pan-Slavism, pantheism, Parsiism, passivism, pauperism, phallicism, pianism, pietism, Platonism, pleinairism, pluralism, pointillism, populism, pragmatism, presentism, privatism, prosaism, Prussianism, puerilism, pugilism, Puseyism, Pyrrhonism, Quakerism, quietism, rabbinism, racialism, rationalism, realism, reformism, rheumatism, rigorism, robotism, Romanism, Rousseauism, rowdyism, royalism, satanism, saturnism, savagism, scapegoatism, schematism, scientism, sciolism, Scotticism, Semitism, Shakerism, Shintoism, skepticism, socialism, solecism, solipsism, Southernism, specialism, speciesism, Spartanism, Spinozism, spiritism, spoonerism, Stalinism, standpattism, stoicism, syllogism, symbolism, synchronism, syncretism, synergism, talmudism, tarantism, tectonism, tenebrism, terrorism, Teutonism, titanism, Titoism, toadyism, tokenism, Toryism, totalism, totemism, transvestism, traumatism, tribalism, tritheism, Trotskyism, ultraism, unionism, urbanism, utopism, Vaishnavism, vampirism, vandalism, vanguardism, Vedantism, veganism, verbalism, virilism, vitalism, vocalism, volcanism, voodooism, vorticism, voyeurism, vulcanism, vulgarism, Wahhabism, warlordism, welfarism, Wellerism, witticism, womanism, yahooism, Yankeeism, Yiddishism, Zionism, zombiism


Medical Dictionary

nihilism

play play
noun ni·hi·lism \ˈnī-(h)ə-ˌliz-əm, ˈnē-\

Medical Definition of nihilism

  1. 1:  nihilistic delusion

  2. 2:  skepticism as to the value of a drug or method of treatment

  3. ni·hi·lis·tic \ˌnī-(h)ə-ˈlis-tik, ˌnē-\play adjective





Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up nihilism? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

February 9, 2016

marked by high spirits and laughter

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

image1037863653

Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?

spindrift duvet kittly-benders pince-nez
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ