bar·​ba·​rism | \ ˈbär-bə-ˌri-zəm How to pronounce barbarism (audio) \

Definition of barbarism

1a : a barbarian or barbarous social or intellectual condition : backwardness
b : the practice or display of barbarian acts, attitudes, or ideas
2 : 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 madness of war – its flashes of searing violence, shifting alliances, and unthinkable barbarism – infuses the story. Erin Douglass, The Christian Science Monitor, 25 Aug. 2021 So those of us who share his aversion, and who watched with horror the federal execution spree in the final months of the Trump administration, had reason to hope that here, at least, there would be a clear break from that barbarism., 16 June 2021 Rhetoric decrying this barbarism has been plentiful, heartfelt and essential to stirring the community's conscience. Editorial Board, Star Tribune, 22 May 2021 One person’s civilization is another person’s barbarism; history teaches that civilization is always the insiders’ view of themselves. Katy Waldman, The New Yorker, 16 May 2021 My engagement with classical antiquity continues to affirm, for me, its civilizing values, rather than the corrosive barbarism of identity politics. Andre M. Archie, National Review, 27 Feb. 2021 And each episode could be unspeakably gory, as the cutting-edge medicine of the year 1900 looked like a second cousin to barbarism by 2015. Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, 25 Feb. 2021 The ironies of barbarism in Dear Comrades are alarming and recognizable. Armond White, National Review, 24 Feb. 2021 Like Joseph Conrad, he was deeply attuned to the human capacity for casual barbarism, and to the bloody consequences of colonialism. Ted Scheinman, Smithsonian Magazine, 14 Dec. 2020

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.

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First Known Use of barbarism

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

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

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Last Updated

3 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Barbarism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Oct. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of barbarism

: cruel and violent behavior
: very rude behavior

More from Merriam-Webster on barbarism

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for barbarism

Britannica English: Translation of barbarism for Arabic Speakers


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