enthusiasm

noun
en·​thu·​si·​asm | \ in-ˈthü-zē-ˌa-zəm , en- also -ˈthyü-\

Definition of enthusiasm

1a : strong excitement of feeling : ardor did her work with energy and enthusiasm
b : something inspiring zeal or fervor his enthusiasms include sailing and fishing
2a : belief in special revelations of the Holy Spirit
b : religious fanaticism

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Choose the Right Synonym for enthusiasm

passion, fervor, ardor, enthusiasm, zeal mean intense emotion compelling action. passion applies to an emotion that is deeply stirring or ungovernable. was a slave to his passions fervor implies a warm and steady emotion. read the poem aloud with great fervor ardor suggests warm and excited feeling likely to be fitful or short-lived. the ardor of their honeymoon soon faded enthusiasm applies to lively or eager interest in or admiration for a proposal, cause, or activity. never showed much enthusiasm for sports zeal implies energetic and unflagging pursuit of an aim or devotion to a cause. preaches with fanatical zeal

What is the history of enthusiasm?

It may come as a surprise to many people, when they first look up the word enthusiasm, to see that its original meaning has to do with passion for religion, rather than passionate or eager interest in general. A brief explanation of the word’s etymology should clear this up. Enthusiasm entered the English language around the beginning of the 17th century. It was borrowed from the Greek enthousiasmos, meaning “inspiration or possession by a god.” For the first two hundred or so years that it was used in English, enthusiasm was primarily employed to refer to beliefs or passions that related to religion. By the beginning of the 18th century, however, the word began to be used to describe having strong feelings or interest in secular matters.

Examples of enthusiasm in a Sentence

Hour by hour, minute by minute, Guerrero is a racehorse, sitting upright in a chair, revising copy, clarifying names and places, sprinkling the reports with jokes while a producer talks in her ear—then delivering with breakneck speed and unflagging enthusiasm. — Joel Drucker, Cigar Aficionado, May/June 2003 The Gower has a bewitching effect on my children. Perhaps it is because of having been cooped up in the car for four hours, but once we are negotiating the windy road along this southern Welsh peninsula, they are all gushing with enthusiasm. — Emma Haughton, Times (London), 12 Aug. 2000 Now that he was awake, he couldn't understand how he could have slept through the racket the birds were making. "Oliver," Harry croaked. "It's the crack of dawn." "Exactly," said Wood. He was a tall and burly sixth year and, at the moment, his eyes were gleaming with a crazed enthusiasm. "It's part of our new training program. Come on, grab your broom, and let's go," said Wood heartily. — J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, 1999 These days, even the wiliest brand-builders are at least a little anxious about the emerging teenage market, with its stylistic balkanization, shifting folkways and unpredictably spiking enthusiasms. — Hal Espen, New York Times Magazine, 21 Mar. 1999 The party supported its candidate with enthusiasm. He seems to lack enthusiasm for the work he's doing. Among his latest enthusiasms are sailing and fishing.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Luxury goods companies have staged Pre-Fall shows this season with the sort of enthusiasm and expenditures until now reserved only for Resort. Nicole Phelps, Vogue, "Who Needs a Runway? Nicolas Ghesquière Hires an A-List Power Posse For His Louis Vuitton Pre-Fall Lookbook," 14 Jan. 2019 Sophie is blessed with Ben’s sports enthusiasm and quick wit. OrlandoSentinel.com, "Deaths in Central Florida: 7/7," 7 July 2018 In fact, Toller’s spiritual enthusiasm and moral agency, once awakened, prove difficult to control. Gary Thompson, Philly.com, "'First Reformed': Ethan Hawke's excellent turn as a conflicted reverend has a 'bonkers' ending," 31 May 2018 These relationships ranged from the supportive love of sisters, through the enthusiasms of adolescent girls, to sensual avowals of love by mature women. Sara Petersen, Vox, "Why do we stop giving meaningful gifts to our friends?," 3 Dec. 2018 Officials elsewhere in the West may not share Inslee’s enthusiasm, particularly in conservative states that depend on coal mining, places for which California embodies liberalism run amok. David R. Baker, SFChronicle.com, "Despite fear of Trump, California considers sharing control of power grid," 16 June 2018 Whether it’s excitement over particular candidates, a desire to pass judgment on Trump, or successful appeals to get out the vote, there are definite signs of enthusiasm, if the 2018 primary season is any indication. Celeste Katz, Glamour, "Voters Don't Come Out for Midterm Elections. But That Could Change This Year.," 30 Oct. 2018 Unlike upscale white Democrats, people in NY-15 do not often talk about themselves as liberals (used here in the American sense, which implies left-wing, rather than in the classical sense, which implies an enthusiasm for limited government). The Economist, "The L wordWho is a Democrat?," 12 July 2018 His young and diverse side has reinvigorated the country's enthusiasm, passion and obsession with the game; and the victory in the penalty shootout could have, rather, marked a change in direction for the team, and England as a country. SI.com, "England United: How Gareth Southgate's Young Lions Have Brought a Country Together," 11 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'enthusiasm.' 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 enthusiasm

1603, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

History and Etymology for enthusiasm

Greek enthousiasmos, from enthousiazein to be inspired, irregular from entheos inspired, from en- + theos god

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Last Updated

11 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for enthusiasm

The first known use of enthusiasm was in 1603

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More Definitions for enthusiasm

enthusiasm

noun

English Language Learners Definition of enthusiasm

: strong excitement about something : a strong feeling of active interest in something that you like or enjoy
: something causing a feeling of excitement and active interest : a hobby that someone feels enthusiastic about

enthusiasm

noun
en·​thu·​si·​asm | \ in-ˈthü-zē-ˌaz-əm , -ˈthyü-\

Kids Definition of enthusiasm

: strong feeling in favor of something There were wild shouts of enthusiasm at this suggestion.— E. B. White, Stuart Little

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