noun mas·och·ism \ ˈma-sə-ˌki-zəm , ˈma-zə- also ˈmā- \
|Updated on: 28 Jun 2018

Definition of masochism

1 : the derivation of sexual gratification from being subjected to physical pain or humiliation by oneself or another person — compare sadism, sadomasochism
2 : pleasure in being abused or dominated : a taste for suffering


play \-kist\ noun


play \ˌma-sə-ˈki-stik, ˌma-zə- also ˌmā-\ adjective


play \-ˈki-sti-k(ə-)lē\ adverb

Recent Examples of masochism from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'masochism.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

What is the Difference Between the Words masochism & sadism?

Masochism and sadism are both about the enjoyment of pain. Masochism refers to the enjoyment of experiencing pain while sadism refers to the enjoyment of inflicting pain on someone else.

Interestingly, both masochism and sadism are eponymous words. English has thousands of such words, taken from the names of people both real and fictional. Masochism comes from the name of the 19th century German novelist, Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. It is unusual in that it began to be used during the lifetime of the man from whom it originated (Sacher-Masoch died in 1895, and masochism had been in printed use since 1892). Sadism comes from the name of the French writer, the Marquis de Sade (1740-1814).

The two words are not only often encountered in connection with one another, they have been combined into a single word, sadomasochism.

Origin and Etymology of masochism

International Scientific Vocabulary, from Leopold von Sacher-Masoch †1895 German novelist

MASOCHISM Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of masochism for English Language Learners

  • : enjoyment of pain : pleasure that someone gets from being abused or hurt; especially : sexual enjoyment from being hurt or punished

Medical Dictionary


noun mas·och·ism \ ˈmas-ə-ˌkiz-əm , ˈmaz- \

medical Definition of masochism

: a sexual perversion characterized by pleasure in being subjected to pain or humiliation especially by a love object — compare algolagnia, sadism


play \ˌmas-ə-ˈkis-tik, ˌmaz-\ adjective


play \ˌmas-ə-ˈkis-ti-k(ə-)lē, ˌmaz-\ adverb

Biographical Note for masochism

Sacher–Masoch play \ˈzäḵ-ər-ˈmäz-ȯḵ\, Leopold von (1836–1895), Austrian novelist. Sacher-Masoch is most famous for his erotic novels. In these novels the characters dwell at length on sexual pleasure derived from pain. The subject matter reflects Sacher-Masoch's personal life. He had two wives and several mistresses with whom he acted out the sexual fantasies described in his fictional works. By 1893 masochism was an established medical term.

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excessive admiration or flattery

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