bar·​ba·​rism ˈbär-bə-ˌri-zəm How to pronounce barbarism (audio)
: a barbarian or barbarous social or intellectual condition : backwardness
: the practice or display of barbarian acts, attitudes, or ideas
: an idea, act, or expression that in form or use offends against contemporary standards of good taste or acceptability

Examples of barbarism in a Sentence

The barbarism of his dictatorship cannot be ignored. Such barbarisms cannot be tolerated.
Recent Examples on the Web The world has devolved into barbarism, with marauding gangs spreading terror across the land, but there are still people who remember a time before lawlessness. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 15 May 2024 Iran continues to arm the Houthis, Hamas, Hezbollah and other terrorist groups whose barbarism has been in sharp relief of late. Chris Roemer, Baltimore Sun, 27 Jan. 2024 The image bespeaks a cultured people resisting barbarism as much as the old photo of the imperturbably English book browsers in a roofless building. Claudia Roth Pierpont, The New Yorker, 19 Feb. 2024 There was some initial skepticism when the project was announced as to whether young girls could ever descend to the same level of barbarism depicted in Golding's novel. Ars Staff, Ars Technica, 29 Dec. 2023 Are we meant to be implicated in our own indifference, our willful avoidance of the barbarism in our own backyards? Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times, 14 Dec. 2023 The Killer is calculated for quiet barbarism threatening to normalize inhumanity. Armond White, National Review, 17 Nov. 2023 View More As knowledge of Greek has become more exotic—the mark of pedants, nerds, and graduates of expensive schools—capturing the barbarism of ancient Greek, and of the ancient Greeks themselves, has become harder. Graeme Wood, The Atlantic, 2 Oct. 2023 Those records formed the basis of his book, a story of barbarism, extreme privation, and continual mortal danger. Anatoly Kuznetsov, Foreign Affairs, 22 Aug. 2023

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of barbarism was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near barbarism

Cite this Entry

“Barbarism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


bar·​ba·​rism ˈbär-bə-ˌriz-əm How to pronounce barbarism (audio)
: the state, ideas, or behavior of a barbarian

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