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[sing-kri-tiz-uh m, sin-] /ˈsɪŋ krɪˌtɪz əm, ˈsɪn-/
the attempted reconciliation or union of different or opposing principles, practices, or parties, as in philosophy or religion.
Grammar. the merging, as by historical change in a language, of two or more categories in a specified environment into one, as, in nonstandard English, the use of was with both singular and plural subjects, while in standard English was is used with singular subjects (except for you in the second person singular) and were with plural subjects.
Origin of syncretism
1610-20; < New Latin syncretismus < Greek synkrētismós union of Cretans, i.e., a united front of two opposing parties against a common foe, derivative of synkrēt(ízein) to syncretize + -ismos -ism
Related forms
[sin-kret-ik] /sɪnˈkrɛt ɪk/ (Show IPA),
syncretical, syncretistic
[sing-kri-tis-tik, sin-] /ˌsɪŋ krɪˈtɪs tɪk, ˌsɪn-/ (Show IPA),
syncretist, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for syncretism
Historical Examples
  • Then syncretism began, and a body of sectarian notions was formed.


    William Graham Sumner
  • Even the possibility of achieving some form of syncretism is not new by any means.

  • In these tales and legends we have syncretism in full swing.

  • And it is here especially that we notice the syncretism which is peculiar to him.

    What is Property? P. J. Proudhon
  • There appears to be a very early example of syncretism in p. 49Australia.

    The Homeric Hymns Andrew Lang
  • The syncretic nature of the signs of practical experiences were reflected in the syncretism of tools and signs.

  • Think about such categories as syncretism, understanding, repetitive patterns in practical terms.

  • Individual syncretism was replaced by the syncretism of communities in which individuals are identified through their work.

  • This was a phase of syncretism, during which the physical projection of the human being dominated the intellect.

  • Mention has already been made of the syncretism of the age; various religions were mingled in a limitless variety of combinations.

    The Origin of Paul's Religion J. Gresham Machen
British Dictionary definitions for syncretism


the tendency to syncretize
the historical tendency of languages to reduce their use of inflection, as in the development of Old English with all its case endings into Modern English
Derived Forms
syncretic (sɪŋˈkrɛtɪk), syncretistic, adjective
syncretist, noun
Word Origin
C17: from New Latin syncrētismus, from Greek sunkrētismos alliance of Cretans, from sunkrētizein to join forces (in the manner of the Cretan towns), from syn- + Krēs a Cretan
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 syncretism

"reconciliation of different beliefs," 1610s, from Modern Latin syncretismus (David Pareus, 1615), from Greek synkretismos "union of communities," from synkretizein "to combine against a common enemy," from syn- "together" (see syn-) + second element of uncertain origin. One theory connects it with kretismos "lying," from kretizein "to lie like a Cretan;" another connects it with the stem of kerannynai "to mix, blend;" krasis "mixture."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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