nihilism

noun
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

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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 The problem, as government officials note, is the nihilism of some non-journalistic actors, notably WikiLeaks’ own Julian Assange, in posting material without scruple, potentially jeopardizing people’s lives. Washington Post, 18 June 2021 Spielberg-Kubrick’s conceit confronts pop nihilism and resolves it, which is why stupid reviewers castigated a film that demands reconsideration today. Armond White, National Review, 30 June 2021 The Glazers are the poster children of the corporate nihilism of the Premier League. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, 3 May 2021 Nietzschean philosophy is arguably the starting point of existentialism, nihilism and continental philosophy as a whole. Teddy Mcdarrah, Forbes, 8 June 2021 The seventies were an unbridled and messy time, when loucheness was a life style born of postwar nihilism and economic decline. Rachel Syme, The New Yorker, 15 May 2021 That kind of political nihilism, and the popular support that delivered it to Congress, cannot be reasoned away. Gregory Krieg, CNN, 15 May 2021 And that for all of their nihilism and irreverence, the Coens actually love humanity, idiots and all. Max Cea, Vulture, 10 Mar. 2021 In this suspicion, my fear of truly contending with the abusers who shaped my life was allowed to morph into a reactionary sort of nihilism. Tavi Gevinson, Vulture, 23 Apr. 2021

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.

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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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Time Traveler for nihilism

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The first known use of nihilism was in 1812

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Nihilist cipher

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Last Updated

16 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Nihilism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/nihilism. Accessed 28 Jul. 2021.

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More Definitions for nihilism

nihilism

noun

English Language Learners Definition of nihilism

formal
: 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

nihilism

noun
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

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about nihilism

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