as·​cet·​i·​cism ə-ˈse-tə-ˌsi-zəm How to pronounce asceticism (audio)
: the practice of strict self-denial as a measure of personal and especially spiritual discipline : the condition, practice, or mode of life of an ascetic : rigorous abstention from self-indulgence
Sacrifice, renunciation, asceticism, fasting, returning again to God … : these are inclinations fueled as much by instinct as by religious idealism.Joyce Carol Oates
Crossing the Atlantic in a small sailboat is an exercise in asceticism, a test of what the human psyche can do without.Sarah Ballard
: austerity in appearance, manner, or attitude
His neatly trimmed white beard and runner's physique suggest the asceticism of a mathematics professor, while his questioning mind signals a mistrust of surface impressions.Bruce Schoenfeld
In contrast to the chaste asceticism of earlier modernist office towers, the AT&T Building incorporated traditional symbols of imperial power (Roman vaults and arches), prestige (a Chippendale-inspired silhouette), and old money (a huge golden statue in the lobby, which once stood on top of the old AT&T Building).Witold Rybczynski

Examples of asceticism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The loss of Hanna’s wife and child in that event sets him on a path of asceticism, attracting disciples and a new swarm of rumors: this time, of his destiny as a Christian saint. Sarah Cypher, Washington Post, 18 July 2023 Sally Kempton, who was once a rising star in the New York journalism world and a fierce exponent of radical feminism, but who later pivoted to a life of Eastern asceticism and spiritual practice, died on Monday at her home in Carmel, Calif. Penelope Green, New York Times, 16 July 2023 Within the span of two centuries, in three separate regions of Eurasia, spiritual movements emerged that would give rise to the world's major moral religions, those preaching some combination of compassion, humility and asceticism. Bret Stetka, Scientific American, 1 May 2015 There would be endless opportunities to learn languages, crafts, and sports; to study science, philosophy, and art; to delve into hedonism and asceticism and consider the nature of humanity. Alison Willmore, Vulture, 10 June 2021 In the Renaissance and in the modern age, in the Bellini and the Breuer, sometimes asceticism is the path to the sublime. New York Times, 25 Feb. 2021 The Beginnings of Moral Religion These five major movements mark the beginning of humanity's turn toward religions that emphasize personal morality and asceticism, according to a new study. Bret Stetka, Scientific American, 1 May 2015 Hers was not a burdensome asceticism but one of rare, insignificant affairs that put her on a par with her peers in life experience. Lyudmila Ulitskaya, The New Yorker, 27 Mar. 2023 Innate asceticism? WIRED, 14 Sep. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'asceticism.' 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

1646, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of asceticism was in 1646

Dictionary Entries Near asceticism

Cite this Entry

“Asceticism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Oct. 2023.

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