[iz-uh m]
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Origin of ism

extracted from words with the suffix -ism


  1. a suffix appearing in loanwords from Greek, where it was used to form action nouns from verbs (baptism); on this model, used as a productive suffix in the formation of nouns denoting action or practice, state or condition, principles, doctrines, a usage or characteristic, devotion or adherence, etc. (criticism; barbarism; Darwinism; despotism; plagiarism; realism; witticism; intellectualism).
Compare -ist, -ize.

Origin of -ism

< Greek -ismos, -isma noun suffixes, often directly, often through Latin -ismus, -isma, sometimes through French -isme, German -ismus (all ultimately < Gk) Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for ism

Contemporary Examples of ism

Historical Examples of ism

British Dictionary definitions for ism


  1. informal, often derogatory an unspecified doctrine, system, or practice


abbreviation for
  1. interstellar medium


suffix forming nouns
  1. indicating an action, process, or resultcriticism; terrorism
  2. indicating a state or conditionpaganism
  3. indicating a doctrine, system, or body of principles and practicesLeninism; spiritualism
  4. indicating behaviour or a characteristic qualityheroism
  5. indicating a characteristic usage, esp of a languagecolloquialism; Scotticism
  6. indicating prejudice on the basis specifiedsexism; ageism

Word Origin for -ism

from Old French -isme, from Latin -ismus, from Greek -ismos
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 ism


suffix forming nouns of action, state, condition, doctrine, from French -isme or directly from Latin -isma, -ismus, from Greek -isma, from stem of verbs in -izein. Used as an independent word, chiefly disparagingly, from 1670s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

ism in Medicine


  1. Action, process; practice:vegetarianism.
  2. Characteristic behavior or quality:puerilism.
  3. State; condition; quality:senilism.
  4. State or condition resulting from an excess of something specified:strychninism.
  5. Doctrine; theory; system of principles:Darwinism.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.