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

Surveys indicate that voter enthusiasm is at an all-time high this year, but if history is any indicator, most eligible voters will stay home. Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge, "Uber is offering $10 off rides to polling locations on Election Day," 24 Oct. 2018 The enthusiasm was palpable around the NES Classic when Nintendo put out the first run in 2016, and again when the company started selling the new-old console this summer. Andrew Moseman, Popular Mechanics, "The NES Classic Outsold the Xbox One, PS4, and Switch," 2 Aug. 2018 But, despite the occasional dropped call and static, Smith’s enthusiasm was clear. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "How a college architecture studio is tackling the affordable housing crisis," 18 July 2018 This is just one measure of interest in election turnout, and the partisan enthusiasm gap can range significantly depending on the metric. Emily Guskin, Washington Post, "Democrats more enthusiastic about voting in midterms," 12 July 2018 But Josh Novotney, a GOP consultant from Philadelphia, said Democrats are already energized, and so a Supreme Court fight might again give Republicans a push to narrow the enthusiasm gap. Jonathan Tamari, Philly.com, "Bob Casey won't consider Trump's Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh. GOP hopes to make him pay," 10 July 2018 But without that enthusiasm gap, control of the House looks like more of a toss-up, at least based on the current generic ballot average. Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, "How Will the SCOTUS Confirmation Fight Affect the Midterms?," 28 June 2018 Our result shows that this enthusiasm is perhaps too optimistic. Tom Simonite, WIRED, "Google, Alibaba Spar Over Timeline for 'Quantum Supremacy'," 19 May 2018 Same with the voter enthusiasm gap where anti-Trump sentiment fueled a 12-point Democrat lead over Republicans in February. Andrew Malcolm, San Francisco Chronicle, "Malcolm: Without vibrant parties, our democracy flails in gridlock," 16 May 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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Statistics for enthusiasm

Last Updated

2 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for enthusiasm

The first known use of enthusiasm was in 1603

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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, -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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