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

Example Sentences

The barbarism of his dictatorship cannot be ignored. Such barbarisms cannot be tolerated.
Recent Examples on the Web Aegean civilization as it was properly understood was erased, and Greece descended into barbarism. Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 15 May 2013 The barbarism on display on Black Friday as shoppers clamor for the best deals on consumer electronics is sometimes used as an argument against capitalism and the consumer economy. Dominic Pino, National Review, 25 Nov. 2022 The sudden prospect of an end to growth, following decades of abundance, intensified the debate about what to do in response, giving it the character of a choice between everything or nothing, civilization or barbarism. Aaron Timms, The New Republic, 31 Oct. 2022 In the West, Black people have functioned in white people’s imaginations as walking symbols — of difference, or of barbarism, inferiority, danger, inhumanity — rather than people. Ismail Muhammad, New York Times, 13 Oct. 2022 For all his good attributes (an unquenching thirst to win, a love of the fans, a lifetime of charitable endeavors), however, the Raiders owner possessed a raw cruelty that bordered on barbarism. Los Angeles Times, 24 Oct. 2022 The barbarism of the Russian occupation shows why the world must support Ukraine in finishing this war and bringing those responsible to justice. Andriy Yermak And Anders Fogh Rasmussen, WSJ, 29 Sep. 2022 Their private efforts to remember and honor the dead reveal a grace born of grief, an essential humanity that defies the barbarism unleashed by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Martin Kuz, The Christian Science Monitor, 23 Aug. 2022 What follows here, told through the people who make Odesa, is a story of what happens when the barbarism that frenzied autocratic Russian nationalism has unleashed meets a city forged in diversity and openness. New York Times, 19 Aug. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'barbarism.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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 1 Feb. 2023.

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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