[ ahyd-l-iz-uhm ]
/ ˈaɪd lˌɪz əm /
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Origin of idolism

First recorded in 1600–10; idol + -ism
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021


What does idolism mean?

Idolism is the worship of an idol or idols—objects or images, such as statues, that are worshiped as the representations of deities or gods. The terms idolatry and idol worship mean the same thing and are much more common.

This sense of idolism is typically used in a negative, judgmental way, implying that the god that the idol represents is not actually real and that such idolism is wrong or sinful. A person who practices idolism can be called an idolater (or an idolist).

A well-known example of idol worship mentioned in a story in the Bible involves a statue of a golden calf that the Israelites were said to have made while Moses was away receiving the Ten Commandments (which prohibit the worship of idols or “graven images”).

Sometimes, idol is used in a metaphorical way to compare something to an object of religious devotion and worship, and such devotion can also be called idolism, as in The endless pursuit of wealth is a form of idolism. This sense of the word is also used in a critical way.

Idol is also commonly used in a figurative way to refer to a person, especially a famous celebrity such as a pop singer, whom someone treats with extreme admiration and devotion. The word sometimes implies that such devotion is excessive, likening it to religious worship. To be a fan of someone in this way is to idolize them. The word idolism can be used to refer to this kind of fandom, but the word idolization means the same thing and is much more common.

Example: Most people don’t bow down before statues, but they engage in other forms of idolism, like an obsession with material possessions.

Where does idolism come from?

The first records of the word idolism come from the early 1600s. The word idol comes from the Greek eídōlon, meaning “image,” from eîdos, meaning “shape and form.” The suffix -ism indicates a doctrine or practice.

Although the word idol can refer to a deity being worshiped, it typically refers to a physical object or image that has been made to represent the deity. Some religions prohibit any such likenesses of a deity or religious figure, considering them to be a form of idolism.

Did you know … ?

What are some other forms related to idolism?

What are some synonyms for idolism?

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



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



How is idolism used in real life?

The word idolism is usually used in a judgmental way regardless of whether it’s used figuratively or in a religious context. The word idolatry is much more commonly used.

Try using idolism!

Which of the following terms can be used as a synonym of idolism?

A. idol worship

B. idle worship

C. idyll worship

D. ideal worship

Example sentences from the Web for idolism

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