en·​thu·​si·​asm | \ in-ˈthü-zē-ˌa-zəm How to pronounce enthusiasm (audio) , 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. 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 . — J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, 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 Much of that enthusiasm appears to be driven by Proposition B, which would strip the police union of their right to collectively bargain their contract with the city. Joshua Fechter, San Antonio Express-News, "San Antonio mayor's race missing drama from two years ago," 28 Apr. 2021 Rain is forecast for Thursday, but that's not dampening enthusiasm in Cleveland, where the Browns' revival is prompting championship talk for the first time in years and has reduced their role from draft headliner to host. Tom Withers, Star Tribune, "Hello, Cleveland: NFL takes 'blended' draft back on road," 27 Apr. 2021 But instead of a quick smile or other signs of enthusiasm, Julia only tugged at her collar. Ew Staff, EW.com, "Read the first three chapters of Kathy Wang's new spy thriller Impostor Syndrome," 27 Apr. 2021 Investors should reconsider that relative lack of enthusiasm. Charley Grant, WSJ, "Johnson & Johnson Shows Health Economy Is Nearing Full Strength," 20 Apr. 2021 Chloe burst onto season 2 of The Circle with a heaping amount of enthusiasm for her #GirlGang and a sweet naïveté that often left her gobsmacked at other contestants' behavior (or a general forgetfulness that people will lie and cheat to win money). Neha Prakash, Marie Claire, "Who Is Chloe of 'The Circle' Season 2 and 'Too Hot to Handle'?," 14 Apr. 2021 However, there is still an enthusiasm about beginning something new. Hayes Gardner, The Courier-Journal, "With uniforms inspired by Muhammad Ali, Racing Louisville FC set for historic debut," 9 Apr. 2021 Treasury’s legal experts were uneasy with FDR’s enthusiasm for naming names. Joseph Thorndike, Forbes, "FDR Tried To Stop A Capital Gains Tax Cut — And Failed," 9 Mar. 2021 Others also noted Costello's boy-like enthusiasm and fascination with fast cars and toys throughout the service. Taylor Seely, The Arizona Republic, "Buckeye Fire Chief Bob Costello honored for life of service, integrity in emotional memorial service," 15 Apr. 2021

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

1595, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

History and Etymology for enthusiasm

borrowed from Late Latin & Greek; Late Latin enthūsiasmos "inspiration, frenzy," borrowed from Greek enthousiasmós, from enthousiázein "to be inspired or possessed by a god" (re-formation of entheázein —perhaps by crossing with thysiázein "to sacrifice"— verbal derivative of éntheos, énthous "possessed by a god, inspired," from en- en- entry 2 + -theos, adjectival derivative of theós "god") + -asmos, variant after -i- of -ismos -ism

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Learn More about enthusiasm

Time Traveler for enthusiasm

Time Traveler

The first known use of enthusiasm was in 1595

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Statistics for enthusiasm

Last Updated

4 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Enthusiasm.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/enthusiasm. Accessed 6 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for enthusiasm



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


en·​thu·​si·​asm | \ in-ˈthü-zē-ˌaz-əm How to pronounce enthusiasm (audio) , -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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Comments on enthusiasm

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