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[al-kuh-haw-liz-uh m, -ho-] /ˈæl kə hɔˌlɪz əm, -hɒ-/
noun, Pathology.
a chronic disorder characterized by dependence on alcohol, repeated excessive use of alcoholic beverages, the development of withdrawal symptoms on reducing or ceasing intake, morbidity that may include cirrhosis of the liver, and decreased ability to function socially and vocationally.
Origin of alcoholism
First recorded in 1855-60; alcohol + -ism Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for alcoholism
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Smith, I believe you once proposed to write an article on Climate and alcoholism.

    The Cruise of the Dry Dock T. S. Stribling
  • Thus it is not alcoholism or the craving for drink which is inherited.

    The Sexual Question August Forel
  • Their wives then become martyrs, especially in cases of alcoholism and paranoia.

    The Sexual Question August Forel
  • He finally decided to send her to an asylum which I superintended, to cure her alcoholism.

    The Sexual Question August Forel
  • In this family, alcoholism and its blastophthoria played a considerable part.

    The Sexual Question August Forel
British Dictionary definitions for alcoholism


a condition in which dependence on alcohol harms a person's health, social functioning, or family life
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for alcoholism

"disease of alcohol addiction," 1852, from alcohol + -ism, or else from Modern Latin alcoholismus, coined in 1852 by Swedish professor of medicine Magnus Huss (1807-1890) to mean what we now would call "alcohol poisoning." In earlier times, alcoholism would have been habitual drunkenness or some such term.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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alcoholism in Medicine

alcoholism al·co·hol·ism (āl'kə-hô-lĭz'əm)

  1. The compulsive consumption of and psychophysiological dependence on alcoholic beverages.

  2. A chronic, progressive pathological condition, mainly affecting the nervous and digestive systems, caused by the excessive and habitual consumption of alcohol. Also called chronic alcoholism.

  3. Temporary mental disturbance and muscular incoordination caused by excessive consumption of alcohol. Also called acute alcoholism.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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alcoholism in Science
A progressive, potentially fatal disease characterized by the excessive and compulsive consumption of alcoholic beverages and physiological and psychological dependence on alcohol. Chronic alcoholism usually results in liver and other organ damage, nutritional deficiencies and impaired social functioning.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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alcoholism in Culture

alcoholism definition

A chronic disease associated with the excessive and habitual use of alcohol; the disease, if left unattended, worsens and can kill the sufferer. Alcoholism is marked by physical dependency and can cause disorders in many organs of the body, including the liver (see cirrhosis), stomach, intestines, and brain. It is also associated with abnormal heart rhythms, with certain cancers, and, because of loss of appetite, with poor nutrition. The cause of alcoholism is very complicated and most often involves a mixture of physical, psychological, and possibly genetic factors.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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