\ 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 He was also inspired by the do-it-yourself ethos of the Whole Earth Catalog, the legendary 1960s book of tools for hippie agrarianism. Steven Levy, Wired, "A 25-Year-Old Bet Comes Due: Has Tech Destroyed Society?," 5 Jan. 2021 Mulder’s story of perseverance aligns with the blue-collar ethos of Windsor, a city of about 233,000 people on the Detroit River with an economy that relies on the auto industry and casinos. Connor Letourneau,, "Warriors’ Mychal Mulder gives hope to players in hockey-crazed Windsor," 28 Dec. 2020 And in keeping with the ethos of 2020, the whole shebang was broadcast over Zoom. Washington Post, "The top 12 wine bargains of 2020 include an outstanding boxed malbec for the equivalent of $5 a bottle," 23 Dec. 2020 Now, as the world begins to open back up, many providers are seeking to preserve those benefits by embracing the growing ethos of slow travel. Elaine Glusac, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Slow Travel Trend Is Here to Stay," 22 Dec. 2020 Elsewhere, though, in keeping with the ethos of street documentary, most of the people are unnamed. Richard B. Woodward, WSJ, "‘Working Together: The Photographers of the Kamoinge Workshop’ Review: A Black Community Too Long Forgotten," 12 Dec. 2020 There are more recent antecedents to Substack’s go-it-yourself ethos. Michael J. Socolow, The Conversation, "Substack isn’t a new model for journalism – it’s a very old one," 7 Dec. 2020 And a trophy can further elevate a team, serving as a tangible embodiment of its ethos and permanent reminder of its expectations. Dylan Hernández Columnist, Los Angeles Times, "Column: LAFC can prove it’s truly a different kind of MLS team with CONCACAF triumph," 22 Dec. 2020 Ars chatted with showrunner Naren Shankar and writers Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck about staying true to the show's underlying ethos for five seasons—and beyond, since a sixth season has already been announced. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "What makes The Expanse so great: Good science, balancing epic with personal," 16 Dec. 2020

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

22 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Ethos.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jan. 2021.

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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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