\ ˈē-ˌthäs How to pronounce ethos (audio) \

Definition of ethos

: the distinguishing character, sentiment, moral nature, or guiding beliefs of a person, group, or institution also : ethic sense 2c

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Did You Know?

Ethos means "custom" or "character" in Greek. As originally used by Aristotle, it referred to a man's character or personality, especially in its balance between passion and caution. Today ethos is used to refer to the practices or values that distinguish one person, organization, or society from others. So we often hear of the ethos of rugged individualism and self-sufficiency on the American frontier in the 19th century; and a critic might complain about, for example, the ethos of violence in the inner cities or the ethos of permissiveness in the suburbs.

Examples of ethos in a Sentence

The company made environmental awareness part of its business ethos. They are working to keep a democratic ethos alive in the community.
Recent Examples on the Web Opponents say the measure is discriminatory and violates India’s secular ethos. Washington Post, "India’s first-time protesters: Mothers and grandmothers stage weeks-long sit-in against citizenship law," 13 Jan. 2020 That kind of exposure is priceless for a local bookstore, especially one with an environmentally-friendly ethos that encourages buying used over new books, Salmons said. Brieanna J. Frank, azcentral, "'Star Wars' actor Mark Hamill lauds Bookmans Flagstaff after employees return missing record," 11 Jan. 2020 The result was about as heinous as expected, further codifying the administration’s current ethos of drill first, ask questions later. Nick Martin, The New Republic, "Trump Finds a New Way to Lick the Boot of the Fossil Fuel Industry," 10 Jan. 2020 While Trautmann wouldn't elaborate on what this might mean for the maker's rear- and mid-engine sports cars, the mere existence of the Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid in both SUV and Cayenne coupe body styles is in line with the brand's new ethos. Andrew Wendler, Car and Driver, "2020 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid Is Large and in Charge," 7 Jan. 2020 There was huge pressure not from anyone above but just from law enforcement ethos and commitment to find the bomber. Adam Carlson,, "'88 Days of Hell': The True Story of the Atlanta Olympic Bombing and the Wrongfully Suspected Hero at the Center," 1 Jan. 2020 Ultimately, the Flashback Bang as a tool is probably not going away, but there’s a variety of ways hair departments can help add to a character’s ethos... Emily Tannenbaum, Glamour, "Why Do Women in TV Flashbacks Always Have Bangs?," 31 Dec. 2019 This ethos continues to power Amazon’s disruptive culture. James Bandler, ProPublica, "Inside Documents Show How Amazon Chose Speed Over Safety in Building Its Delivery Network," 28 Dec. 2019 Dan Berkowitz with CID Entertainment, who works with artists like Phish, Sturgill Simpson and Luke Bryan was also impressed with Del Valle's DIY ethos. Dave Brooks, Billboard, "How a Teenager Turned a Denny's Into the Best Punk Club Ever, For One Night Only," 19 Dec. 2019

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

1842, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for ethos

New Latin, from Greek ēthos custom, character — more at sib

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Time Traveler for ethos

Time Traveler

The first known use of ethos was in 1842

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Statistics for ethos

Last Updated

18 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Ethos.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 26 January 2020.

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More Definitions for ethos


How to pronounce ethos (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of ethos

formal : the guiding beliefs of a person, group, or organization

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Comments on ethos

What made you want to look up ethos? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to express in a more acceptable way

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