mas·​och·​ism | \ˈma-sə-ˌki-zəm, ˈma-zə- also ˈmā- \

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

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Other Words from masochism

masochist \ -​kist \ noun
masochistic \ ˌma-​sə-​ˈki-​stik , ˌma-​zə-​ also  ˌmā-​ \ adjective
masochistically \ -​ˈki-​sti-​k(ə-​)lē \ adverb

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.

Examples of masochism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

This was an assignment for a lawyer driven by a bold mission and a small measure of masochism, not one in pursuit of glamour or safety. Jackson Holahan, The Christian Science Monitor, "'The Good Mothers' profiles the female prosecutor who took on Italy's mafia," 6 June 2018 Those who practice bondage, dominance, sadism and masochism (B.D.S.M.) have rules for protecting boundaries, safety and consent. New York Times, "The Boundary Between Abuse and B.D.S.M.," 23 May 2018 Listening to your girlfriend cry through the wall is a form of emotional masochism that will not aid in your recovery! Anna Pulley, RedEye Chicago, "Ask Anna: How do I leave a toxic relationship?," 23 Oct. 2017 The story brought new attention to the world of kink that’s often known as BDSM — standing for variations of bondage, dominance, submission and masochism. Washington Post, "‘Kink community’ angry at New York attorney general comments," 10 May 2018 The term stands for variations of bondage, dominance, submission and masochism. David Crary, Fox News, "'Kink community' angry at New York attorney general comments," 8 May 2018 What makes the movie watchable as more than an exercise in masochism is that Isabelle is also a battler. Peter Rainer, The Christian Science Monitor, "'Let the Sunshine In' is a bit more airy than it needs to be," 4 May 2018 Going to a music festival solely for the music is rare enough but going to a music festival completely sober is a certain kind of low-key masochism. Sable Yong, Allure, "What It's Like to Go to Coachella Completely Sober and in Your 30s," 23 Apr. 2018 What’s striking about these products is their apparent masochism. Andrew Peaple, WSJ, "Chinese Banks Find Another Funding Wheeze," 20 Apr. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of masochism

1892, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for masochism

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

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Dictionary Entries near masochism


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Time Traveler for masochism

The first known use of masochism was in 1892

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More Definitions for masochism



English Language Learners Definition of masochism

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


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

Other Words from masochism

masochistic \ ˌmas-​ə-​ˈkis-​tik , ˌmaz-​ \ adjective
masochistically \ ˌmas-​ə-​ˈkis-​ti-​k(ə-​)lē , ˌmaz-​ \ adverb

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