[al-kuh-haw-liz-uh m, -ho-]
See more synonyms for alcoholism on
noun Pathology.
  1. a chronic disorder characterized by dependence on alcohol, repeated excessive use of alcoholic beverages, the development of withdrawal symptoms on reducing or ceasing intake, morbidity that may include cirrhosis of the liver, and decreased ability to function socially and vocationally.

Origin of alcoholism

First recorded in 1855–60; alcohol + -ism Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for alcoholism

crapulence, addiction, drunkenness, dipsomania, vinosity

Examples from the Web for alcoholism

Contemporary Examples of alcoholism

Historical Examples of alcoholism

  • Smith, I believe you once proposed to write an article on Climate and Alcoholism.

  • Thus it is not alcoholism or the craving for drink which is inherited.

  • Their wives then become martyrs, especially in cases of alcoholism and paranoia.

  • He finally decided to send her to an asylum which I superintended, to cure her alcoholism.

  • In this family, alcoholism and its blastophthoria played a considerable part.

British Dictionary definitions for alcoholism


  1. a condition in which dependence on alcohol harms a person's health, social functioning, or family life
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

Word Origin and History for alcoholism

"disease of alcohol addiction," 1852, from alcohol + -ism, or else from Modern Latin alcoholismus, coined in 1852 by Swedish professor of medicine Magnus Huss (1807-1890) to mean what we now would call "alcohol poisoning." In earlier times, alcoholism would have been habitual drunkenness or some such term.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

alcoholism in Medicine


  1. The compulsive consumption of and psychophysiological dependence on alcoholic beverages.
  2. A chronic, progressive pathological condition, mainly affecting the nervous and digestive systems, caused by the excessive and habitual consumption of alcohol.chronic alcoholism
  3. Temporary mental disturbance and muscular incoordination caused by excessive consumption of alcohol.acute alcoholism
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

alcoholism in Science


  1. A progressive, potentially fatal disease characterized by the excessive and compulsive consumption of alcoholic beverages and physiological and psychological dependence on alcohol. Chronic alcoholism usually results in liver and other organ damage, nutritional deficiencies and impaired social functioning.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

alcoholism in Culture


A chronic disease associated with the excessive and habitual use of alcohol; the disease, if left unattended, worsens and can kill the sufferer. Alcoholism is marked by physical dependency and can cause disorders in many organs of the body, including the liver (see cirrhosis), stomach, intestines, and brain. It is also associated with abnormal heart rhythms, with certain cancers, and, because of loss of appetite, with poor nutrition. The cause of alcoholism is very complicated and most often involves a mixture of physical, psychological, and possibly genetic factors.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.