syn·​cret·​ic | \ sin-ˈkre-tik How to pronounce syncretic (audio) , siŋ- \

Definition of syncretic

: characterized or brought about by syncretism : syncretistic a syncretic religion

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Syncretic has its roots in an ancient alliance. It's a descendant of the Greek word synkrētismos, meaning "federation of Cretan cities-syn- means "together," with, and Krēt- means "Cretan." The adjective first appeared in English in the mid-19th century, and the related noun "syncretism" debuted over 200 years earlier. "Syncretic" retains the idea of coalition and appears in such contexts as "syncretic religions," "syncretic societies," and even "syncretic music," all describing things influenced by two or more styles or traditions. The word also has a specific application in linguistics, where it refers to a fusion of grammatical forms.

Examples of syncretic in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Possessed of a daringly syncretic musical intelligence, Rosalía has inhaled flamenco. James Parker, The Atlantic, "How Flamenco Went Pop," 21 Dec. 2019 Manfred Eicher, who founded ECM and remains its sole proprietor, has forged a syncretic vision in which jazz and classical traditions intelligently intermingle. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, "The Pristine Empire of ECM Records," 25 Nov. 2019 Although Pastor John’s stories and songs seem strange or syncretic, the community of Soulsville responds with enthusiasm. David Wallace, The New Yorker, "Tiphanie Yanique on the Necessity of the Spirit," 28 Oct. 2019 But the new syncretic fusion of Judaism and Christianity makes no sense. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "David Brooks needs a name for his new religion.," 13 June 2018 The artist from Austin, Texas, has her first exhibition in L.A. at the Luis De Jesus gallery, and the collage and text works explore preteen awkwardness and the syncretic nature of black female identity. Sharon Mizota,, "Deborah Roberts' powerful statement of black female identity," 29 May 2018 Despite the protestations of those who felt that the party exploited the spiritual seriousness of Catholic art, the Met’s carpeted steps played host to a syncretic display of contemporary religious visuality. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "Getting Into the Holy Spirit," 8 May 2018 The exhibition ends with a remarkable example of the syncretic character of the classical world: a bust of a Greek version of an Egyptian god (Serapis), made for the far reaches of the Roman empire. Edward Rothstein, WSJ, "‘Beyond the Nile: Egypt and the Classical World’ Review: A Cross-Cultural Journey Begins," 31 Mar. 2018 Voodoo refers to syncretic religious practices developed by Caribbean slaves who took spiritual traditions from their native Africa and merged them with elements of Christianity and other faiths. Crimesider Staff, CBS News, ""We don't hurt children": Vodou practitioners fear backlash after recent crimes," 12 Feb. 2018

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

1840, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of syncretic was in 1840

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Last Updated

9 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Syncretic.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 18 January 2020.

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