View synonyms for ethos


[ ee-thos, ee-thohs, eth-os, -ohs ]


  1. Sociology. the fundamental character or spirit of a culture; the underlying sentiment that informs the beliefs, customs, or practices of a group or society; dominant assumptions of a people or period:

    In the Greek ethos the individual was highly valued.

  2. the character or disposition of a community, group, person, etc.
  3. the moral element in dramatic literature that determines a character's action rather than their thought or emotion.


/ ˈiːθɒs /


  1. the distinctive character, spirit, and attitudes of a people, culture, era, etc

    the revolutionary ethos

“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 History and Origins

Origin of ethos1

First recorded in 1850–55; from Latin ēthos “character, portrayal of character,” from Greek êthos “custom, habit, disposition character”
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Word History and Origins

Origin of ethos1

C19: from Late Latin: habit, from Greek
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Compare Meanings

How does ethos compare to similar and commonly confused words? Explore the most common comparisons:

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Example Sentences

Her move also broke with the “own the libs” ethos of today’s GOP.

It has fueled the “eat the rich” ethos behind the GameStop frenzy.

This spirited, trial-and-error ethos courses through New York University’s theatrical production wing, which has been holding live performances since last October.

From Quartz

The company did just hire a CFO, which makes this move appear in concert with its general ethos, so more to come there we presume.

On the mainland, the pandemic has inspired projects guided by the doughnut’s ethos.

From Time

When Cocker took on board the black American ethos, he turned it into something completely different.

The best, or at least most successful, are bridging the gap between punk-rock DIY ethos and social-media savvy.

But very little of the ISIS ethos has to do with hitting the Freedom Tower or the Capitol Dome.

The emphasis on freshness and simplicity laid forth by the governmental guidelines is in line with his cooking ethos.

More importantly, the evangelistic ethos is supposed to infuse everyday life.

For in the view of those who distinguish harmonia from tonos it is the harmonia upon which the ethos of music depends.

These moveable notes, then, give an ethos to the music because they determine the genus of the scale.

"Ethics" were things which pertained to the ethos and therefore the things which were the37 standard of right.

By virtue of the latter element the mores are traits in the specific character (ethos) of a society or a period.

In the war with Russia, in 1904, this people showed what a group is capable of when it has a strong ethos.


Related Words

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More About Ethos

What does ethos mean?

The ethos of a culture or society is its collective spirit or character—the fundamental or underlying beliefs and attitudes that influence its customs and practices.

Things sometimes said to have an ethos include countries (the American ethos of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness), cultures and subcultures (the punk ethos), and eras in time (the counterculture ethos of the ’60s).

The word can also refer collectively to such beliefs and attitudes in a person.

The term ethos is also used as the name of a particular method of persuasion in which a person relies on their credibility or character when making an appeal or an argument. In this context, it is often discussed alongside logos (an appeal to logic) and pathos (an appeal to emotion).

Example: Our company ethos is based on creating a space where people of all backgrounds feel welcome and valued in the workplace.

Where does ethos come from?

The first records of the word ethos to mean the collective character of a society or culture come from the mid-1800s. It comes from a Greek word meaning “custom,” “habit,” or “character.” The word ethic, referring to a body of principles and values, is based on the same root.

Something’s ethos is its character or general attitude—what it’s all about. A country’s national ethos involves its core values and is the driving force behind its culture. The ethos behind what’s called the “American Dream” is the notion that any American who works hard can achieve success.

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What are some synonyms for ethos?

What are some words that share a root or word element with ethos



What are some words that often get used in discussing ethos?


How is ethos used in real life?

Ethos is especially used in the context of societies, countries, and cultures.



Try using ethos!

Is ethos used correctly in the following sentence?

This way of doing business goes against my entire ethos.