[uh-set-uh-siz-uh m]


the manner of life, practices, or principles of an ascetic.
the doctrine that a person can attain a high spiritual and moral state by practicing self-denial, self-mortification, and the like.
rigorous self-denial; extreme abstinence; austerity.

Origin of asceticism

First recorded in 1640–50; ascetic + -ism
Related formsnon·as·cet·i·cism, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for asceticism

Contemporary Examples of asceticism

Historical Examples of asceticism

  • That is the true Christian asceticism, my son, and so it is with our vows.

    The Christian

    Hall Caine

  • Asceticism has no place in this religion; everything in it is bright and sensible.

    History of Religion

    Allan Menzies

  • The basic premise of the Ids is asceticism and there never was any strength in that idea.

    Cubs of the Wolf

    Raymond F. Jones

  • It is towards that men will strain themselves with the asceticism of saints.

    The Napoleon of Notting Hill

    Gilbert K. Chesterton

  • In the Christianity of the Gospel there is very little trace of asceticism.

    Joyous Gard

    Arthur Christopher Benson

British Dictionary definitions for asceticism



the behaviour, discipline, or outlook of an ascetic, esp of a religious ascetic
the principles of ascetic practices, esp in the early Christian Church
the theory and system of ascetic practices
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 asceticism

1640s, from ascetic (adj.) + -ism. Sometimes also ascetism (c.1850).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

asceticism in Culture



An austere, simple way of life in which persons renounce material pleasures and devote their energy to moral or religious purpose.

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.