nihilism

noun

ni·​hil·​ism ˈnī-(h)ə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce nihilism (audio) ˈnē- How to pronounce nihilism (audio)
1
a
: a viewpoint that traditional values and beliefs are unfounded and that existence is senseless and useless
Nihilism is a condition in which all ultimate values lose their value.Ronald H. Nash
b
: a doctrine that denies any objective ground of truth and especially of moral truths
2
a
: a doctrine or belief that conditions in the social organization are so bad as to make destruction desirable for its own sake independent of any constructive program or possibility
b
capitalized : the program of a 19th century Russian party advocating revolutionary reform and using terrorism and assassination
nihilist noun or adjective
nihilistic adjective

Examples of nihilism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Ben Stanton’s lighting attunes audiences to the pull of optimism against the seduction of nihilism. Lovia Gyarkye, The Hollywood Reporter, 24 Apr. 2024 His brand of anxious teen nihilism felt raw and oh-so-millennial in a way few actors had pulled off for our generation by then. Raquel Willis, TIME, 17 Apr. 2024 Its many questions begin to create a creeping sense of dread and nihilism, and that mood comes to a head in the last section, which is made up of three short stories and a series of questions about each. Ilana Masad, The Atlantic, 11 Apr. 2024 Doesn’t this encourage more bad feelings: solipsism, nihilism, futility? Lauren Oyler, The New Yorker, 9 Mar. 2024 American Weekend still resonates in part because of its unvarnished frankness about selfishness, nihilism, and willful isolation from loved ones. Andy Cush, Pitchfork, 12 Mar. 2024 In Hal Prince’s 1966 production, Grey’s delicate, meticulous performance as the cane-twirling Emcee is pure nihilism—as a representation of Germany’s conscience. Adrienne Miller, Vogue, 5 Mar. 2024 Much like the duo's earlier film, The Lodge takes a story that is relatively straightforward and energizes it with a slick nihilism that lends it the patina of the best downbeat horrors from the 1970s. Declan Gallagher, EW.com, 16 Oct. 2023 This might sound like a fatalistic view of the world, and for later thinkers the idea that the universe is nothing but a mechanism in motion, constantly changing but never going anywhere, was a recipe for nihilism and despair. Adam Kirsch, The New Yorker, 5 Feb. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'nihilism.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

German Nihilismus, from Latin nihil nothing — more at nil

First Known Use

1812, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of nihilism was in 1812

Dictionary Entries Near nihilism

Cite this Entry

“Nihilism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/nihilism. Accessed 21 May. 2024.

Medical Definition

nihilism

noun
ni·​hi·​lism ˈnī-(h)ə-ˌliz-əm How to pronounce nihilism (audio) ˈnē- How to pronounce nihilism (audio)
1
2
: skepticism as to the value of a drug or method of treatment
nihilistic adjective

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