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

Examples of nihilism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Many Americans, in assessing their own behavior, are asking how the government is using the time that sheltering at home has bought; without a better answer from someone, there is a risk that a sort of public-health nihilism will take hold. Amy Davidson Sorkin, The New Yorker, "As Trump’s Hostility to Masks Fuels a Public-Health Nihilism, Fauci Issues a New Plea," 1 July 2020 But that doesn’t mean that nihilism is suddenly an option. Whitney Phillips, Wired, "How to Avoid Spreading Misinformation About the Protests," 4 June 2020 For all his commitment to nonviolence, however, King understood the way frustration can turn into rage and rage can curdle into nihilism, when injustice is too brutal to comprehend and justice is perpetually deferred. Gilbert Garcia, ExpressNews.com, "Garcia: For San Antonio, Saturday unrest leads to Sunday healing," 31 May 2020 Quarantine comedy reacts to that state of affairs with a nihilism that is entirely reasonable. Megan Garber, The Atlantic, "Quarantine Is Changing the Way We Laugh," 2 Apr. 2020 How did an innocuous animated frog with bulging eyes and an appreciation for peeing with his pants pulled all the way down journey from indie comic obscurity to meme celebrity to notoriety as the global poster-frog for hatred and alienated nihilism? Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Feels Good Man': Film Review | Sundance 2020," 27 Jan. 2020 There is much analysis about what Luke’s appearance here means, how his simultaneous backward focus plus baby-with-the-bathwater anti-Force nihilism represents aging Star Wars obsessives or George Lucas himself. Darren Franich, EW.com, "Star Wars rewatch: The Last Jedi destroys a legend to rebuild the same legend," 16 Dec. 2019 Morgan Rainey’s blighted idealism is as central to Stone’s vision as Rheinhardt’s fluent nihilism is. George Packer, The Atlantic, "A Novelist’s Ambition to Define America," 18 Apr. 2020 For those who prefer their crime-fiction pulp hard-boiled and harder-hitting, with sidelong glances into moral philosophy and nasty nihilism, Zahler's the guy. Isaac Feldberg, Fortune, "What to watch on HBO while social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic," 4 Apr. 2020

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

Time Traveler

The first known use of nihilism was in 1812

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Statistics for nihilism

Last Updated

15 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Nihilism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/nihilism. Accessed 7 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for nihilism

nihilism

noun
How to pronounce nihilism (audio) How to pronounce nihilism (audio)

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 nihilistic (audio) \ adjective

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More from Merriam-Webster on nihilism

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with nihilism

Spanish Central: Translation of 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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