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[man-uh-riz-uh m] /ˈmæn əˌrɪz əm/
a habitual or characteristic manner, mode, or way of doing something; distinctive quality or style, as in behavior or speech:
He has an annoying mannerism of tapping his fingers while he talks. They copied his literary mannerisms but always lacked his ebullience.
marked or excessive adherence to an unusual or a particular manner, especially if affected:
Natural courtesy is a world apart from snobbish mannerism.
(usually initial capital letter) a style in the fine arts developed principally in Europe during the 16th century, chiefly characterized by a complex perspectival system, elongation of forms, strained gestures or poses of figures, and intense, often strident color.
Origin of mannerism
First recorded in 1795-1805; manner1 + -ism
Related forms
mannerist, noun
manneristic, adjective
manneristically, adverb
nonmanneristic, adjective
semimanneristic, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for mannerism
Historical Examples
  • He had a superb voice, but a mannerism of spreading his arms wide open in front of him with his fingers opened out.

    My Recollections Jules Massenet
  • He had only to exaggerate this manner, or mannerism, to set London talking.

    Nights Elizabeth Robins Pennell
  • That this mannerism was deliberately chosen, we have a right to believe.

  • A player should be most careful not to indicate by some mannerism that his hand is trickless.

    Auction of To-day Milton C. Work
  • His bravado is only ridiculous when taken out of its surroundings, and at the worst is more a mannerism than an affection of mind.

    The African Colony John Buchan
  • There was something in the action that suggested more than a mannerism.

    The Shrieking Pit Arthur J. Rees
  • It was a trick of mannerism which heightened the subtlety of her smile.

  • If one of the company had a trick or a mannerism, I never failed to catch it.

    The Crossing Winston Churchill
  • But Rankin has a mannerism, one which is fairly harmless, too, as a general rule.

  • The resemblance in mannerism is, perhaps, more pronounced than similarity in voice.

British Dictionary definitions for mannerism


a distinctive and individual gesture or trait; idiosyncrasy
(often capital) a principally Italian movement in art and architecture between the High Renaissance and Baroque periods (1520–1600) that sought to represent an ideal of beauty rather than natural images of it, using characteristic distortion and exaggeration of human proportions, perspective, etc
adherence to a distinctive or affected manner, esp in art or literature
Derived Forms
mannerist, noun
manneristic, manneristical, adjective
manneristically, adverb
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 mannerism

"excessive use of distinctive methods in art or literature," 1803, from manner + -ism. Meaning "an instance of mannerism, habitual peculiarity" is from 1819. Related: Mannerisms.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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mannerism in Medicine

mannerism man·ner·ism (mān'ə-rĭz'əm)
A distinctive behavioral trait; an idiosyncrasy.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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