existentialism

[ eg-zi-sten-shuh-liz-uhm, ek-si- ]
/ ˌɛg zɪˈstɛn ʃəˌlɪz əm, ˌɛk sɪ- /

noun Philosophy.

a philosophical movement that stresses the individual's unique position as a self-determining agent responsible for making meaningful, authentic choices in a universe seen as purposeless or irrational: existentialism is associated especially with Heidegger, Jaspers, Marcel, and Sartre, and is opposed to philosophical rationalism and empiricism.

Origin of existentialism

First recorded in 1940–45; from German Existentialismus (1919); see existential, -ism

OTHER WORDS FROM existentialism

ex·is·ten·tial·ist, adjective, nounex·is·ten·tial·is·tic, adjectiveex·is·ten·tial·is·ti·cal·ly, adverbnon·ex·is·ten·tial·ism, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for existentialist

British Dictionary definitions for existentialist

existentialism
/ (ˌɛɡzɪˈstɛnʃəˌlɪzəm) /

noun

a modern philosophical movement stressing the importance of personal experience and responsibility and the demands that they make on the individual, who is seen as a free agent in a deterministic and seemingly meaningless universe

Derived forms of existentialism

existentialist, adjective, noun
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

Culture definitions for existentialist

existentialism

A movement in twentieth-century literature and philosophy, with some forerunners in earlier centuries. Existentialism stresses that people are entirely free and therefore responsible for what they make of themselves. With this responsibility comes a profound anguish or dread. Søren Kierkegaard and Feodor Dostoyevsky in the nineteenth century, and Jean-Paul Sartre, Martin Heidegger, and Albert Camus in the twentieth century, were existentialist writers.

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.