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 pugilistic (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 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, "How Christians Destroyed the Ancient World," 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, "Todd Rokita is battling 'the elites,' including fellow Republicans who used to support him," 26 Apr. 2018 Being his first foray into professional pugilism, McGregor won rounds against one of the sport’s greatest. Jim Varsallone, miamiherald, "Conor McGregor, MMA win in loss," 27 Aug. 2017 Unlike most big-time pugilism spectacles, this fight is not a title bout. TIME.com, "The Spectacle in Sin City," 18 Aug. 2017 Every generation of leftists angrily vents about liberalism’s slim ambitions and its paucity of pugilism. Rosa Inocencio Smith, The Atlantic, "The Atlantic," 10 Aug. 2017 The NHL boasts the fastest, most dynamic players in its 100-year history, but the sport of grace has a credibility gap so long as pugilism is accepted in an age of vigilant scrutiny of concussions and head injuries. Brian Murphy, Twin Cities, "Brian Murphy: Forty years later, the hidden message of ‘Slap Shot’ goes unheeded," 8 Feb. 2017 At the same time, even ideological hard-liners who share the president’s pugilism but not his pragmatism have stuck by him because Mr. Trump has made the right enemies — and gleefully ridiculed them with public insults rarely heard from a president. Jonathan Martin, New York Times, "As Georgia Vote Nears, G.O.P. Asks if Ideological Purity Matters Anymore," 9 Apr. 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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Cite this Entry

“Pugilism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pugilism. Accessed 15 Aug. 2020.

More from Merriam-Webster on pugilism

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about pugilism

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