Definition of nihilism
1a : 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. Nashb : a doctrine that denies any objective ground of truth and especially of moral truths
2a : 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 possibilityb capitalized : the program of a 19th century Russian party advocating revolutionary reform and using terrorism and assassination
nihilistplay \ˈnī-(h)ə-list, ˈnē-\ noun or adjective
nihilisticplay \ˌnī-(h)ə-ˈli-stik, ˌnē-\ adjective
Recent Examples of nihilism from the Web
But this just shows the nihilism at the heart of the GOP, the only mainstream party in the Western world that questions the science of climate change.
What’s left is far more interesting: An extremist successor driven by romantic yearnings and nihilism.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'nihilism'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Origin and Etymology of nihilism
German Nihilismus, from Latin nihil nothing — more at nil
First Known Use: 1812
NIHILISM Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of nihilism for English Language Learners
: the belief that traditional morals, ideas, beliefs, etc., have no worth or value
: the belief that a society's political and social institutions are so bad that they should be destroyed
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