pes·​si·​mism | \ ˈpe-sə-ˌmi-zəm also ˈpe-zə- How to pronounce pessimism (audio) \

Definition of pessimism

1 : an inclination to emphasize adverse aspects, conditions, and possibilities or to expect the worst possible outcome
2a : the doctrine that reality is essentially evil
b : the doctrine that evil overbalances happiness in life

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Examples of pessimism in a Sentence

Although the economy shows signs of improving, a sense of pessimism remains.

Recent Examples on the Web

And overall there was also more pessimism than optimism that the two sides could get along. CBS News, "CBS News Eye on Trends: The latest from the CBS News Election & Survey Unit," 26 June 2019 And the main determinant of these feelings in almost any investment portfolio will be the stock market since stocks can swing wildly from optimism to pessimism, from booms to busts, and from high levels to low levels. Ben Carlson, Fortune, "Worried About Recession? Here are 3 Ways Investors Can Decrease Stock Market Risk," 26 June 2019 Though Bolles had been in critical or grave condition since the bombing attack, Dozer said fluctuations in his condition alternatively gave doctors reason for hope and for pessimism., "Don Bolles loses fight for life: Remembering the reporter with his 1976 obituary," 13 June 2019 Interest and attendance numbers in their vast fan base have waned, and there's sometimes an air of pessimism about men's national team proceedings. Patrick Brennan,, "USMNT sets up camp at UC's Nippert Stadium for final Gold Cup tuneup," 7 June 2019 Lanier, the father of virtual reality who moved on to work in AR and became an outspoken critic of social media, is a fitting spirit guide for the novel, twinning Stephenson's own slide into techno-pessimism. Peter Rubin, WIRED, "Neal Stephenson's Latest Book Dodges Its Scariest Premise," 4 June 2019 Their share prices have underperformed since the start of the year on rising economic pessimism, the inversion of the yield curve and concerns that the Federal Reserve may be done with its rate increases. Aaron Back, WSJ, "No Spring Thaw in Store for Banks," 10 Apr. 2019 Each of these scores is derived by taking the difference between words that belong in the category that indicates certainty, optimism, etc. and those that exemplify its opposite — ambivalence, pessimism, etc. Julia Azari, Vox, "Who wrote the anonymous White House op-ed? A linguistic analysis.," 7 Sep. 2018 In a book that otherwise oscillates between anger and pessimism, there is a single ray of hope: Brexit. The Economist, "Brexit is reverberating in British literature," 5 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pessimism.' 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 pessimism

1815, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for pessimism

borrowed from French pessimisme, from Latin pessimus "worst" + French -isme -ism, formed by analogy with optimisme optimism; Latin pessimus, probably going back to *pedisamos, derivative (with -isamos, superlative suffix, going back to Italic & Celtic *-ism̥mos) of *ped-, extracted from *ped-tu- "a fall, falling" (whence Latin pessum "to the bottom, to destruction"), verbal noun from an Indo-European base *ped- "step, fall," whence, with varying ablaut grades, Old English gefetan "to fall," Old Church Slavic padǫ, pasti, Sanskrit padyate "(s/he) falls, perishes"

Note: The Indo-European verbal base *ped- is generally taken to be a derivative of the noun *pōd-, ped- "foot"; see foot entry 1.

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Statistics for pessimism

Last Updated

10 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for pessimism

The first known use of pessimism was in 1815

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More Definitions for pessimism



English Language Learners Definition of pessimism

: a feeling or belief that bad things will happen in the future : a feeling or belief that what you hope for will not happen


pes·​si·​mism | \ ˈpe-sə-ˌmi-zəm How to pronounce pessimism (audio) \

Kids Definition of pessimism

: a feeling or belief that things are usually bad or that bad things will happen


pes·​si·​mism | \ ˈpes-ə-ˌmiz-əm also ˈpez-\

Medical Definition of pessimism

: an inclination to emphasize adverse aspects, conditions, and possibilities or to expect the worst possible outcome

Other Words from pessimism

pessimistic \ ˌpes-​ə-​ˈmis-​tik also ˌpez-​ \ adjective

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Comments on pessimism

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characterized by aphorism

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