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[sey-diz-uh m, sad-iz-] /ˈseɪ dɪz əm, ˈsæd ɪz-/
Psychiatry. the condition in which sexual gratification depends on causing pain or degradation to others.
Compare masochism.
any enjoyment in being cruel.
extreme cruelty.
Origin of sadism
1885-90; < French sadisme; see Sade, -ism
Related forms
sadist, noun, adjective
[suh-dis-tik, sey-, sa-] /səˈdɪs tɪk, seɪ-, sæ-/ (Show IPA),
adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for sadism
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Certain reminiscences of sadism are common both in man and woman.

    The Sexual Question August Forel
  • This is so to speak an inversion of sadism as regards cause and effect.

    The Sexual Question August Forel
  • The journal in question attributes with good reason this fantasy to sadism.

    The Sexual Question August Forel
  • It is a dysgenic factor but much less important than sadism.


    William J. Robinson
  • And it was here that I detected a trace of sadism in my lovely wife.

British Dictionary definitions for sadism


/ˈseɪdɪzəm; ˈsæ-/
the gaining of pleasure or sexual gratification from the infliction of pain and mental suffering on another person See also algolagnia Compare masochism
Derived Forms
sadist, noun
sadistic (səˈdɪstɪk) adjective
sadistically, adverb
Word Origin
C19: from French, named after the Marquis de Sade
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 sadism

"love of cruelty," 1888, from French sadisme, from the name of Count Donatien A.F. de Sade (1740-1815). Not a marquis, though usually now called one, he was notorious for cruel sexual practices he described in his novels.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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sadism in Medicine

sadism sa·dism (sā'dĭz'əm, sād'ĭz'-)

  1. The act or an instance of deriving sexual gratification from infliction of pain on others.

  2. A psychological disorder in which sexual gratification is derived from infliction of pain on others.

sa'dist n.
sa·dis'tic (sə-dĭs'tĭk) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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sadism in Culture
sadism [(say-diz-uhm, sad-iz-uhm)]

Abnormal behavior characterized by deriving sexual gratification from inflicting pain on others. More loosely, sadism refers to deriving any pleasure from inflicting pain. Named after the Marquis de Sade, a French author of the eighteenth century, whose works describe many sexual perversities.

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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