pu·​gi·​lism | \ ˈpyü-jə-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce pugilism (audio) \

Definition of pugilism

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Other Words from pugilism

pugilistic \ ˌpyü-​jə-​ˈli-​stik How to pronounce pugilism (audio) \ adjective

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The practice of fighting for sport was in place in a number of Mediterranean civilizations by 1500 B.C. (and recent evidence suggests that it may have flourished in parts of eastern Africa before that). By the 7th century B.C., boxing had become a staple of the Olympic Games in Greece. Soon afterward, the Romans picked up the sport and introduced the word pugil (a noun related to the Latin pugnus, meaning "fist") to refer to a boxer. Boxing faded out with the decline of the Roman Empire, but resurged in popularity in the18th century. By the 1790s, "pugilist" and "pugilism" were firmly entrenched in the English lexicon.

Examples of pugilism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Production sources believed the snub was retaliatory, citing Rudin’s pugilism that embroiled the show in multiple legal disputes on its way to New York - a precursor, perhaps, to his downfall this spring. Lee Seymour, Forbes, 11 June 2021 Of course, the Williamsburg Hotel forces no one to bring pugilism to his/her vacation or work time. Michael Alpiner, Forbes, 25 May 2021 His brand of right-wing pugilism is similar to what talk-radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin have been doing for decades. Kevin Roose, New York Times, 29 Oct. 2020 The Republican field runs along a spectrum from those who fully embrace Trump’s pugilism and populism to those who would temper it with traditional conservatism or wrap it in a more optimistic sales pitch. Ryan Teague Beckwith, Bloomberg.com, 29 Aug. 2020 And once Christianity became championed by Rome, one of the most militaristic civilizations the world has known, philosophical discussions on the nature of good and evil became martial instructions for purges and pugilism. Bettany Hughes, New York Times, 8 June 2018 Some see that same pugilism as a negative, especially when he's used it to deliver sharp upper cuts to top Republican leaders who had once been in his corner and now harshly criticize him as an ungrateful opportunist. Maureen Groppe, Indianapolis Star, 26 Apr. 2018 Being his first foray into professional pugilism, McGregor won rounds against one of the sport’s greatest. Jim Varsallone, miamiherald, 27 Aug. 2017 Unlike most big-time pugilism spectacles, this fight is not a title bout. TIME.com, 18 Aug. 2017

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

1789, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for pugilism

Latin pugil boxer; akin to Latin pugnus fist — more at pungent

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The first known use of pugilism was in 1789

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Last Updated

19 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Pugilism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pugilism. Accessed 23 Jul. 2021.

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Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about pugilism


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