know-noth·​ing·​ism | \ ˈnō-ˌnə-thiŋ-ˌi-zəm How to pronounce know-nothingism (audio) \

Definition of know-nothingism

1 capitalized K&N : the principles and policies of the Know-Nothings
2 : the condition of knowing nothing or desiring to know nothing or the conviction that nothing can be known with certainty especially in religion or morality
3 often capitalized K&N : a mid-20th century political attitude characterized by anti-intellectualism, exaggerated patriotism, and fear of foreign subversive influences

First Known Use of know-nothingism

1854, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about know-nothingism

Time Traveler for know-nothingism

Time Traveler

The first known use of know-nothingism was in 1854

See more words from the same year

Statistics for know-nothingism

Cite this Entry

“Know-nothingism.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 23 January 2020.

More from Merriam-Webster on know-nothingism

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with know-nothingism

Comments on know-nothingism

What made you want to look up know-nothingism? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


out of the ordinary or unreasonable

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Intact Latin Quiz

  • roman tablet
  • What did focus mean in Latin?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!