ethos

noun
\ˈē-ˌthäs \

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

Lee Raymond, Exxon’s boss from 1993 to 2005, personified the swagger at the heart of the company’s ethos. Bradley Olson, WSJ, "Exxon, Once a ‘Perfect Machine,’ Is Running Dry," 13 July 2018 The Putin ethos gives Russia political drawing power that overcomes language barriers, national borders and criticism in the mainstream news media in the West. Washington Post, "How the Kremlin turned the Russian president into a global icon," 12 July 2018 There are many restaurants, like Yarri in Dunsborough and Wildflower in Perth, that are based on this ethos, but one chef who is largely associated with this practice is Paul Iskov. Christina Liao, Vogue, "Why You Should Be Going to Australia for Fresh Black Truffles," 12 July 2018 And, in a way, Lewerke's under-the-radar July fits snugly into the us-against-the-world ethos Dantonio infuses into his program. Shawn Windsor, Detroit Free Press, "Forget the rankings. MSU's Brian Lewerke could be Big Ten's best QB," 11 July 2018 Now stand that faith in reason next to the ethos of Big Tech, next to the Google and Facebook attitude toward truth. Franklin Foer, The Atlantic, "The Death of the Public Square," 6 July 2018 The music was made in the ethos and atmosphere of Vienna and Freud, which was about the discovery of the inner workings of the mind. Joe Lynch, Billboard, "Jon Hassell at 81: Visionary Composer-Trumpeter Reflects on a Half Century of Music on His Own Terms," 28 June 2018 At its core, the ethos of Wisconsin is cradled in the hands of Mother Nature. Carla Minsky, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Travel is Good for the Soul," 10 June 2018 The Goleta killings of Offerman and Manning and Cheri Domingo and Gregory Sanchez targeted unmarried couples, steering investigators toward the belief the killer was driven by a moralistic ethos. Benjamin Oreskes, latimes.com, "Why did it take so long to arrest the Golden State Killer suspect? Interagency rivalries, old technology, errors and bad luck," 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

11 Oct 2018

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

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

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