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[dou-iz-uh m, tou-] /ˈdaʊ ɪz əm, ˈtaʊ-/
the philosophical system evolved by Lao-tzu and Chuang-tzu, advocating a life of complete simplicity and naturalness and of noninterference with the course of natural events, in order to attain a happy existence in harmony with the Tao.
Also called Hsüan Chiao. a popular Chinese religion, originating in the doctrines of Lao-tzu but later highly eclectic in nature and characterized by a pantheon of many gods and by the practice of alchemy, divination, and magic.
Origin of Taoism
Tao + -ism
Related forms
Taoist, noun, adjective
Taoistic, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for Taoism
Historical Examples
  • Note: “In a yellow robe,” is an indication of Taoism: compare with No. 38.

  • For many centuries Buddhism and Taoism were in bitter antagonism.

    The Civilization Of China Herbert A. Giles
  • In the group of nine, Lao-tseu, the founder of Taoism, is the ninth figure.

    Chats on Oriental China J. F. Blacker
  • Nobody believed in Taoism, and they knew nothing of its doctrine or of its worship.

    Changing China William Gascoyne-Cecil
  • The superstitions which have grown up about Taoism particularly are innumerable.

  • Again, Zennism, like Taoism, is a strong advocate of individualism.

    The Book of Tea Kakuzo Okakura
  • But the chief contribution of Taoism to Asiatic life has been in the realm of aesthetics.

    The Book of Tea Kakuzo Okakura
  • Taoism cannot be understood without some knowledge of Confucianism and vice versa.

    The Book of Tea Kakuzo Okakura
  • Taoism furnished the basis for aesthetic ideals, Zennism made them practical.

    The Book of Tea Kakuzo Okakura
  • The power of inventive imitation is characteristic of Taoism.

British Dictionary definitions for Taoism


the philosophy of Lao Zi that advocates a simple honest life and noninterference with the course of natural events
a popular Chinese system of religion and philosophy claiming to be teachings of Lao Zi but also incorporating pantheism and sorcery
Derived Forms
Taoist, noun, adjective
Taoistic, adjective
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 Taoism

religious system founded by Lao Tzu (b. 604 B.C.E.), 1839, from Chinese tao "way, path, right way (of life), reason" + -ism.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Taoism in Culture
Taoism [(dou-iz-uhm)]

A religion native to China. Its adherents attempt to live according to the Tao — the “Way,” which they believe governs the universe.

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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