noun \ˈi-zəm\

Definition of ism

  1. 1 :  a distinctive doctrine, cause, or theory

  2. 2 :  an oppressive and especially discriminatory attitude or belief we all have got to come to grips with our isms — Joycelyn Elders

Examples of ism in a sentence

  1. Cubism, Impressionism, and other artistic isms.

  2. ageism, racism, sexism, and all the other familiar isms

Origin and Etymology of ism


First Known Use: 1680


noun suffix

Definition of -ism

  1. 1a :  act :  practice :  process criticism plagiarismb :  manner of action or behavior characteristic of a (specified) person or thing animalismc :  prejudice or discrimination on the basis of a (specified) attribute racism sexism

  2. 2a :  state :  condition :  property barbarianismb :  abnormal state or condition resulting from excess of a (specified) thing alcoholism or marked by resemblance to (such) a person or thing giantism

  3. 3a :  doctrine :  theory :  religion Buddhismb :  adherence to a system or a class of principles stoicism

  4. 4 :  characteristic or peculiar feature or trait colloquialism

Origin and Etymology of -ism

Middle English -isme, from Medieval French & Latin; Medieval French, partly from Latin -isma (from Greek) & partly from Latin -ismus, from Greek -ismos; Greek -isma & -ismos, from verbs in -izein -ize

ISM Defined for English Language Learners


noun \ˈi-zəm\

Definition of ism for English Language Learners

  • : a belief, attitude, style, etc., that is referred to by a word that ends in the suffix -ism


noun suffix

Definition of -ism for English Language Learners

  • : the act, practice, or process of doing something

  • : behavior like that of a specified kind of person or thing

  • : unfair treatment of a group of people who have a particular quality

-ISM Defined for Kids


noun suffix \ˌi-zəm\

Definition of -ism for Students

  1. 1 :  act :  practice :  process baptism criticism

  2. 2 :  manner of action or behavior like that of a specified person or thing heroism

  3. 3 :  state :  condition alcoholism

  4. 4 :  teachings :  theory :  system socialism

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capable of being understood in two ways

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