ex·​is·​ten·​tial·​ism | \ ˌeg-(ˌ)zi-ˈsten(t)-shə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce existentialism (audio) , ˌek-(ˌ)si- \

Definition of existentialism

: a chiefly 20th century philosophical movement embracing diverse doctrines but centering on analysis of individual existence in an unfathomable universe and the plight of the individual who must assume ultimate responsibility for acts of free will without any certain knowledge of what is right or wrong or good or bad

Examples of existentialism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web This being San Francisco, there is a longstanding local group for existentialism. Nellie Bowles, New York Times, "Silicon Valley Goes to Therapy," 20 Sep. 2019 And that’s exactly the idea The Good Place tackles—via existentialism, of course. Anne T. Donahue, Marie Claire, "How Accurate Is The Good Place's Philosophy?," 31 Jan. 2019 Teamonade -- named after the tasty beverage combination of sweet tea and lemonade -- has set itself apart in Ohio’s music scene with its catchy punk vibes and thoughtful lyrics about existentialism, depression and relationships. Anne Nickoloff, cleveland, "Bowling Green band Teamonade releases new single ‘Sadder Than U’," 5 Nov. 2019 Different spins on philosophy Critchley’s creative spin on existentialism is emblematic of the types of programming people expect of the Night of Philosophy phenomenon. Anne Quito, Quartzy, "A David Bowie sing-along is among the highlights of New York’s next philosophy festival," 1 Oct. 2019 In its three seasons on the air, the Emmy-winning comedy starring Kristen Bell and Ted Danson has tackled thorny ethical issues, existentialism, nihilism, and the meaning of life—all while being forking hilarious. Paula Bernstein, Fortune, "‘The Good Place’ Creator Mike Schur on the Show’s Final Season," 26 Sep. 2019 During a discussion of existentialism and determinism that Rob was ingeniously weaving into the story through one of the hitmen, Raymond, who also taught a course in philosophy, brought new insights into the philosophical analysis. Kareem Abdul-jabbar, The Hollywood Reporter, "Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: What I Learned Writing for 'Veronica Mars'," 15 Aug. 2019 Sawyer is interested in existentialism, reading the works of philosophers Friedrich Nietzsche and Albert Camus. Karina Bland, azcentral, "Maybe he's too old for his Buzz costume, but there's still infinity and beyond," 14 July 2019 A few minutes of this kind of moody existentialism here and there can add flavor to a stylish genre picture. Noel Murray, latimes.com, "Reviews: Gary Oldman in ‘Killers Anonymous’; plus ‘The 16th Episode’ and more," 27 June 2019

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

1941, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of existentialism was in 1941

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Last Updated

18 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Existentialism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/existentialism. Accessed 29 Feb. 2020.

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More from Merriam-Webster on existentialism

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with existentialism

Britannica English: Translation of existentialism for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about existentialism

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