ethos

noun
\ 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

The Trump business ethos has long been: Do whatever is necessary to beat your competitors. Alex Finley - Center For Public Integrity, Vox, "Trump got the National Enquirer to bury his secrets. Did he do the same with Putin?," 21 Dec. 2018 The founders are passionate about scouring the globe for vintage pieces and the next-great indie jewelry designers (which often have an ethos of sustainablity). Janice Leung Hayes, Condé Nast Traveler, "22 Best Shops in Hong Kong," 4 Mar. 2018 At a time when online activism is heavily embedded in our daily lives, fashion brands have been increasingly capitalizing on female empowerment, which begs the question: Can fashion ever be a true statement of an intersectional feminist ethos? Sara Radin, Teen Vogue, "How The Wing Has Created a Retail Environment That Actually Helps Women," 21 Mar. 2019 The embodiment of the Blackberry Mountain ethos, Hopkins is a thoroughly Thoreauvian character, voraciously well read and steeped in Appalachian lore. Mark Rozzo, Town & Country, "Introducing Blackberry Mountain, the Idyllic New Resort from Blackberry Farm," 11 Feb. 2019 There would be grand gestures, too, moves that flew in the face of the Premier League’s cash-hungry ethos. Jonathan Clegg, WSJ, "The American Billionaire Who Got Chewed Up by English Soccer," 30 Nov. 2018 Yet that sort of ethos can get mired in stubbornness and keep an organization from properly stepping into a rebuild. Shawn Windsor, Detroit Free Press, "Did Detroit Red Wings help or hurt rebuild with veteran signings?," 8 July 2018 Frank Ramsey helped create a legacy of excellence and selflessness that carried through generations, and remains part of the Boston Celtics ethos to this day. Steve Gardner, USA TODAY, "Boston Celtics Hall of Famer Frank Ramsey dies at 86," 8 July 2018 In fact, what Musk is describing is precisely the opposite of a reputable newsroom ethos. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "Elon Musk’s Fall to Earth," 25 May 2018

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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Statistics for ethos

Last Updated

12 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ethos

The first known use of ethos was in 1842

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More Definitions for ethos

ethos

noun

English Language Learners Definition of ethos

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

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