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

Definition of pugilism

Other Words from pugilism

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

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The sport of boxing had its Olympic initiation more than 2,500 years ago in the 23rd Olympiad of 688 BCE. The ancient Romans adopted the sport from the Greeks, and we adopted the word pugilism from them: the Latin word pugil means "boxer." (The word is related to the Latin pugnus, meaning "fist.") Boxing faded out with the decline of the Roman Empire, but resurged in popularity in the 18th century. By the century's end, pugilist and pugilism were firmly entrenched in the English lexicon, and pugilism now sees additional use in reference to metaphorical sparring, as in a political debate.

Examples of pugilism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web But to the surprise of pugilism pundits worldwide, Álvarez slipped. Sean Gregory, Time, 17 Sep. 2022 Healey’s time in office has been best known for her pugilism against Trump over everything from his initial travel ban to efforts to roll back environmental protections. Matt Stout, BostonGlobe.com, 6 Sep. 2022 The abject failure of the liberal nation-building project in Afghanistan, or the international gridlock in supporting Ukraine’s fledgling democracy against Russia’s pugilism, are just a few recent real-world checks to liberal universalism. Krithika Varagur, The New Yorker, 25 May 2022 With that simple statement of faith in a better America, Allen lays out the deeply idealistic roots of his legal pugilism. Steven Gaydos, Variety, 20 Oct. 2021 Its pugilism is polite and thoughtful, but this is a show that very much packs a punch. Steven Litt, cleveland, 17 Oct. 2021 But as Nick Goldberg wrote, Cuomo has a long history of political pugilism. Los Angeles Times, 6 Aug. 2021 It’s made by a Charlestown startup that has a vision of doing for pugilism what Peloton did for cycling. BostonGlobe.com, 19 July 2021 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 See More

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.

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

23 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Pugilism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pugilism. Accessed 29 Sep. 2022.

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Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about pugilism


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