ism

1 of 2

noun

1
: a distinctive doctrine, cause, or theory
2
: an oppressive and especially discriminatory attitude or belief
we all have got to come to grips with our ismsJoycelyn Elders

-ism

2 of 2

noun suffix

1
a
: act : practice : process
criticism
plagiarism
b
: manner of action or behavior characteristic of a (specified) person or thing
animalism
c
: prejudice or discrimination on the basis of a (specified) attribute
racism
sexism
2
a
: state : condition : property
barbarianism
b
: abnormal state or condition resulting from excess of a (specified) thing
alcoholism
or marked by resemblance to (such) a person or thing
giantism
3
a
: doctrine : theory : religion
Buddhism
b
: adherence to a system or a class of principles
stoicism
4
: characteristic or peculiar feature or trait
colloquialism

Examples of ism in a Sentence

Noun Cubism, Impressionism, and other artistic isms. ageism, racism, sexism, and all the other familiar isms
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
But rather than participate in this kind of sexism — and also not engage in outright single-ism — maybe set some ground rules in advance. Judith Martin, The Mercury News, 1 June 2024 These isms have been busy raping the planet, based on an old, malignant story that the environment is nothing but dead stuff to exploit. Hazlitt, 26 July 2023 Two great feats of dad-ism! New York Times, 19 Aug. 2021 But the complex permitting process, often plagued by not-in-my-backyard-ism, can take more than a decade, as states where power lines would need to be built but don't necessarily benefit from using or generating the power have little incentive to approve them. Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner, 1 Sep. 2020 This is not what-about-ism. Marilynne Robinson, Harper’s Magazine , 20 July 2022 The complex siting process, oftentimes plagued by not-in-my-backyard-ism, or NIMBYism, can take more than a decade, the report notes, as states where power lines would need to be built but don't necessarily benefit from using or generating the power have little incentive to approve them. Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner, 10 Aug. 2020 One of the other great examples of New York tabloid-ism (and there are so many) was when the New York Daily News and New York Post, after a game where Tom Brady complained about the officiating, both put Brady's face on the body of a baby. Mike Freeman, USA TODAY, 11 Mar. 2023 What- -about-ism is one of the weakest arguments even grade school debaters know about. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, 1 Mar. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'ism.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

-ism

Noun suffix

Middle English -isme, from Middle French & Latin; Middle French, partly from Latin -isma (from Greek) & partly from Latin -ismus, from Greek -ismos; Greek -isma & -ismos, from verbs in -izein -ize

First Known Use

Noun

1680, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of ism was in 1680

Dictionary Entries Near ism

Cite this Entry

“Ism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ism. Accessed 19 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition

ism

1 of 2 noun
1
: a distinctive belief, cause, or theory
2
: an oppressive and especially discriminatory attitude or belief

-ism

2 of 2 noun suffix
ˌiz-əm
1
a
: act : practice : process
criticism
plagiarism
b
: manner of action or behavior
heroism
2
a
: state : condition : property
skepticism
b
: abnormal state or condition
alcoholism
3
: doctrine : theory : cult
Buddhism
socialism
4
: characteristic or peculiar feature
colloquialism
Etymology

Noun suffix

derived from Greek -isma and Greek -ismos (noun suffixes)

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