ni·​hil·​ism | \ ˈnī-(h)ə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce nihilism (audio) , ˈnē- How to pronounce nihilism (audio) \

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. Nash
b : 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 possibility
b capitalized : the program of a 19th century Russian party advocating revolutionary reform and using terrorism and assassination

Other Words from nihilism

nihilist \ ˈnī-​(h)ə-​list How to pronounce nihilism (audio) , ˈnē-​ \ noun or adjective
nihilistic \ ˌnī-​(h)ə-​ˈli-​stik How to pronounce nihilism (audio) , ˌnē-​ \ adjective

Examples of nihilism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Without exactly saying it, Cillizza and Fineout gesture at a much more damning point: That the key to supremacy within the Republican Party means embracing a cruel form of nihilism and that doing so may, in fact, be super-smart politics. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, 20 Sep. 2022 And few films feel as extravagantly 2022 as Bodies Bodies Bodies, a blithe, ruthless slasher satire soaked in the digital-native lingo and dizzy Euphoria nihilism of Gen Z. Leah Greenblatt,, 12 Aug. 2022 The Daniels’ quirky version of a comic book movie dives into the deep end of space-time chaos, while offering a Kurt Vonnegut-style rebuttal to nihilism and an appeal to love and kindness as the only way to make sense of the madness. Ryan Faughnder, Los Angeles Times, 10 May 2022 For Osmundson, to assume that nothing whatsoever can be done to combat prejudice is giving in to nihilism. Benjamin Mazer, The Atlantic, 17 Aug. 2022 This bloodbath was triggered by Ed Harris’ Man in Black character, in an extension of his series-long nihilism; his viewpoint couldn’t help becoming the show’s. Daniel D'addario, Variety, 14 Aug. 2022 Paranoia Trilogy is at the root of Millennial Hollywood’s misdirected nihilism. Armond White, National Review, 1 June 2022 As far as exercises in nihilism go, Texas deserves some points for creativity. Jason Linkins, The New Republic, 7 Aug. 2021 Of the two, Milioti gets the fuller character arc to play with, as Emma tries her very best to push down her weaknesses in favor of fully embracing the apathy of true nihilism. Caroline Framke, Variety, 28 July 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of nihilism

1812, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for nihilism

German Nihilismus, from Latin nihil nothing — more at nil

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The first known use of nihilism was in 1812

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Last Updated

26 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Nihilism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Oct. 2022.

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More Definitions for nihilism


ni·​hi·​lism | \ ˈnī-(h)ə-ˌliz-əm How to pronounce nihilism (audio) , ˈnē- How to pronounce nihilism (audio) \

Medical Definition of nihilism

2 : skepticism as to the value of a drug or method of treatment

Other Words from nihilism

nihilistic \ ˌnī-​(h)ə-​ˈlis-​tik, ˌnē-​ How to pronounce nihilism (audio) \ adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on nihilism

Nglish: Translation of nihilism for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of nihilism for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about nihilism


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