• synonyms


[ee-thos, ee-thohs, eth-os, -ohs]
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  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 his or her thought or emotion.
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Origin of ethos

1850–55; < Greek: custom, habit, character
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

ideology, mentality, spirit, mindset, code, psychology, culture, mind, psyche, attitude, values, principles, beliefs

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British Dictionary definitions for ethos


  1. the distinctive character, spirit, and attitudes of a people, culture, era, etcthe revolutionary ethos
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Word Origin

C19: from Late Latin: habit, from Greek
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 ethos


revived by Palgrave in 1851 from Greek ethos "moral character, nature, disposition, habit, custom," from suffixed form of PIE root *s(w)e- (see idiom). An important concept in Aristotle (e.g. "Rhetoric" II xii-xiv).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper