Ori·​en·​tal·​ism ˌȯr-ē-ˈen-tə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce Orientalism (audio)
variants or orientalism
plural Orientalisms or orientalisms
: scholarship, learning, or study in Asian subjects or languages
Knowledge of Islam and Muslims crystallised into what became known, by the late 18th century, as Orientalism—the study of the history, languages and cultures of the East.Roger Hardy
now often used with negative connotations of a colonialist bias underlying and reinforced by such scholarship
According to Edward Said and other postcolonial critics, much of our dim view of Arabs is a product of an "Orientalism" that was constructed by European intellectuals of the 19th century …Victor Hanson Davis
"Orientalism" in the study of Muslim societies carries somewhat negative implications these days as a label for literary analyses deprived of social or historical context …C. C. Stewart
usually orientalism : something (such as a style or manner) associated with or characteristic of Asia or Asians
Strauss's orientalisms are truly evocative: those in the "Dance of the Seven Veils" evoke both warmth and strangeness through their use of artificial scales …Derrick Puffett
Orientalist adjective
or orientalist
Orientalist studies/attitudes
Orientalist noun
or orientalist
plural Orientalists or orientalists
In recent years Mr. Lewis, and indeed the whole of the older generation of American and European Islamic scholars, have come under attack as "Orientalists," a word that refers to students of Eastern languages and cultures but in the polemics of the moment has come to mean agents of intellectual and political imperialism, scholars dedicated to a discourse that fosters oppression of Eastern peoples by Western. Ira M. Lapidus
The burden of being White Men is what hobbles us in our study of Hinduism. Or so Columbia University's Edward Said tells us, and his words are echoed by those who would deconstruct the study of "the Orient" in general and Hinduism in particular. Since Said's shattering denunciation in Orientalism (1978), Orientalists—Westerners who study Eastern religions and societies—have perceived themselves to be hopelessly tarred by the brushes of racism, colonialism, Eurocentrism, and sexism. Wendy Doniger

Examples of Orientalism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web When people of color, specifically South Asians, pointed out the orientalism in tabletop role-playing games (TTRPGs), and in actual play sessions like Critical Role, the backlash was palpable. Veerender Singh Jubbal, WIRED, 13 Oct. 2022 For that reason, oudh’s success in the West is something apart from the orientalism of the 1980s. New York Times, 10 May 2021 The history of anti-Blackness and cultural appropriation in the Asian community, orientalism in hip-hop, and the intentional wielding of the model minority myth by other communities attempt to fortify the divide. Niki McGloster, refinery29.com, 21 Apr. 2021 The grip of orientalism on U.S. knowledge production has in fact only tightened since Said’s passing. Udi Greenberg, The New Republic, 13 Apr. 2021 Techno-orientalism is the use of Asian aesthetics in cyberpunk, futuristic, and dystopian settings. George Yang, Wired, 8 Dec. 2020 The orientalism of the 19th century saw western colonial authors fetishizing an exotic other. Khalid Albaih, Quartz, 19 June 2019 The gaudy orientalism of Thomas Moore’s poem (translated into German for Schumann’s setting) is the usual insufficient one. Mark Swed, latimes.com, 4 June 2018 The fundamental premise of the Tomb Raider franchise is full-on, orthodox orientalism. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, 20 Mar. 2018 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

1747, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of Orientalism was in 1747

Dictionary Entries Near Orientalism

Cite this Entry

“Orientalism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Orientalism. Accessed 1 Oct. 2023.

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