[bahr-buh-riz-uh m]
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  1. a barbarous or uncivilized state or condition.
  2. a barbarous act; something belonging to or befitting a barbarous condition.
  3. the use in a language of forms or constructions felt by some to be undesirably alien to the established standards of the language.
  4. such a form or construction: Some people consider “complected” as a barbarism.

Origin of barbarism

1570–80; < Latin barbarismus < Greek barbarismós foreign way of speaking. See barbarous, -ism
Related formshy·per·bar·bar·ism, noun
Can be confusedbarbarism barbarity Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for barbarism


  1. a brutal, coarse, or ignorant act
  2. the condition of being backward, coarse, or ignorant
  3. a substandard or erroneously constructed or derived word or expression; solecism
  4. any act or object that offends against accepted taste

Word Origin for barbarism

C16: from Latin barbarismus error of speech, from Greek barbarismos, from barbaros barbarous
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 barbarism

mid-15c., "uncivilized or rude nature," from French barbarisme (13c.), from Latin barbarismus, from Greek barbarismos "foreign speech," from barbarizein "to do as a foreigner does" (see barbarian). Only of speech in Greek, Latin, and French; sense extended in English to "uncivilized condition."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper