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[ee-thos, ee-thohs, eth-os, -ohs] /ˈi θɒs, ˈi θoʊs, ˈɛθ ɒs, -oʊs/
Sociology. the fundamental character or spirit of a culture; the underlying sentiment that informs the beliefs, customs, or practices of a group or society; dominant assumptions of a people or period:
In the Greek ethos the individual was highly valued.
the character or disposition of a community, group, person, etc.
the moral element in dramatic literature that determines a character's action rather than his or her thought or emotion.
Origin of ethos
1850-55; < Greek: custom, habit, character Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for ethos
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • What each nation stands for, its ethos, its personality, must be made clear.

    The Psychology of Nations G.E. Partridge
  • The ethos of the satiric persona was something they could not understand.

    Two Poems Against Pope Leonard Welsted
  • I can find no passage in which this source of ethos is indicated.

    The Modes of Ancient Greek Music David Binning Monro
  • It is "ethical" or "moral" in the sense of conforming to the ethos or mores of the group.


    John Dewey and James Hayden Tufts
  • They were criminals, by their own ethos, when they desecrated our dead.

    The Leicestershires beyond Baghdad

    Edward John Thompson
British Dictionary definitions for ethos


the distinctive character, spirit, and attitudes of a people, culture, era, etc: the revolutionary ethos
Word Origin
C19: from Late Latin: habit, from Greek
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 ethos

revived by Palgrave in 1851 from Greek ethos "moral character, nature, disposition, habit, custom," from suffixed form of PIE root *s(w)e- (see idiom). An important concept in Aristotle (e.g. "Rhetoric" II xii-xiv).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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