syn·​cret·​ic sin-ˈkre-tik How to pronounce syncretic (audio)
: 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 The figure-grazing outfit, in some ways, embodies the syncretic form of Islam that developed in Indonesia, in which an Arabian faith brought by traders blended with animist, Hindu, Buddhist and other influences. Hannah Beech, New York Times, 30 June 2023 Read More: What Modi’s Visit to Washington Tells Us About Indian American Voters In important ways, Prime Minister Modi represents a break with India’s past, most notably in his emphasis on India’s Hindu, rather than syncretic and secular, cultural heritage. Alyssa Ayres, Time, 21 June 2023 Her mode is syncretic and pluralistic. Charles McNultytheater Critic, Los Angeles Times, 23 Oct. 2022 At once heartbreaking and unapologetically strange, this is a cross-cultural, syncretic, folksy, razor-sharp narrative about the horrors of grief and the eternal debate over nature versus nurture. Gabino Iglesias, Los Angeles Times, 9 Mar. 2023 Their homes — made of mud brick and stucco, with walls now jagged or altogether missing — stand as monuments to the Draa’s rich, syncretic past and to the enthralling boundlessness of its present. Michael Snyder, New York Times, 17 Nov. 2022 The holiday itself is highly syncretic, combining a Mesoamerican worldview of the progression of life and family with Catholic traditions; All Saints’ Day is Nov. 1 while All Souls’ Day is Nov. 2. Robyn Huang, Anchorage Daily News, 3 Nov. 2022 Nance’s photography reveals a common thread between these faiths—which emerged from the dizzying clash of African, European, and American cultures—and the festival’s equally syncretic enactment of pan-African unity. Julian Lucas, The New Yorker, 28 Oct. 2022 The film ends in a joyful, syncretic reunion—the Nehruvian nation transposed onto the family in the clearest possible fashion. Samanth Subramanian, The New Yorker, 10 Oct. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'syncretic.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1840, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of syncretic was in 1840


Dictionary Entries Near syncretic

Cite this Entry

“Syncretic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Dec. 2023.

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