[ klas-uh-siz-uh m ]
/ ˈklæs əˌsɪz əm /


the principles or styles characteristic of the literature and art of ancient Greece and Rome.
adherence to such principles.
the classical style in literature and art, or adherence to its principles (contrasted with romanticism).Compare classical(def 7).
a Greek or Latin idiom or form, especially one used in some other language.
classical scholarship or learning.



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Also clas·si·cal·ism [klas-i-kuh-liz-uh m] /ˈklæs ɪ kəˌlɪz əm/.

Origin of classicism

First recorded in 1820–30; classic + -ism


clas·si·cis·tic [klas-uh-sis-tik] /ˌklæs əˈsɪs tɪk/, adjectivean·ti·clas·si·cal·ism, nounan·ti·clas·si·cism, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Example sentences from the Web for classicism

British Dictionary definitions for classicism


classicalism (ˈklæsɪkəˌlɪzəm)

/ (ˈklæsɪˌsɪzəm) /


a style based on the study of Greek and Roman models, characterized by emotional restraint and regularity of form, associated esp with the 18th century in Europe; the antithesis of romanticismCompare neoclassicism
knowledge or study of the culture of ancient Greece and Rome
  1. a Greek or Latin form or expression
  2. an expression in a modern language, such as English, that is modelled on a Greek or Latin form
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

Cultural definitions for classicism


An approach to aesthetics that favors restraint, rationality, and the use of strict forms in literature, painting, architecture, and other arts. It flourished in ancient Greece and Rome, and throughout Europe in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Classicists often derived their models from the ancient Greeks and Romans.

notes for classicism

Classicism is sometimes considered the opposite of romanticism.
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.