1 : the combination of different forms of belief or practice
2 : the fusion of two or more originally different inflectional forms
Did You Know?
The ancient Greeks mainly used the term synkrētismos to describe the joining together of Greeks in opposition to a common enemy. In the early 17th century, English speakers adopted the term in the anglicized form syncretism to refer to the union of different religious beliefs. Three centuries later, lexicographers of the 1909 edition of Webster’s New International Dictionary of the English Language added a new definition of syncretism ("the union or fusion into one or two or more originally different inflectional forms, as of two cases"), but this specialized sense is rarely encountered outside of the field of linguistics. Some related terms that you might encounter are syncretize ("to attempt to unite and harmonize"), syncretist ("one who advocates syncretism"), and syncretic and syncretistic ("characterized or brought about by syncretism").
"Dance caller and historian Phil Jamison … argues convincingly … that American square dance is not a colonial relic from the British Isles, but rather a uniquely American syncretism of European, African and Native American influences." — Gabriel Popkin, The Washington Post, 24 Jan. 2016
"The Yoruba religion was brought to Cuba by Africans from the Yoruba region…. Over time, the religion merged with Catholicism, resulting in a religious syncretism that unites the Yoruba deities (orishas) with Catholic saints." — Abel Fernandez, The Miami Herald, 4 Jan. 2017
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Test Your Vocabulary
Unscramble the letters to create a noun that refers to a union or an alliance: ILCNOOTAI.VIEW THE ANSWER
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