[ iz-uhm ]
See synonyms for ism on
  1. a distinctive doctrine, theory, system, or practice: This is the age of isms.

Origin of ism

Extracted from words with the suffix -ism

Other definitions for -ism (2 of 2)


  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).

Origin of -ism

From Greek -ismos, -isma noun suffixes, often directly, often through Latin -ismus, -isma, sometimes through French -isme, German -ismus (all ultimately from Greek ) Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use ism in a sentence

  • The world was somewhat weary of Landlordism, Pauperism, and Protestantism, and all the other "isms" of that unhappy country.

    Roland Cashel | Charles James Lever
  • Such a theory as Evolution and its vaporizing method of Bible interpretation, prepares the way for "isms" of every kind.

    The Other Side of Evolution | Alexander Patterson
  • He avoids references to isms and ologies and gives a wide berth to all who deal in them.

    How to Analyze People on Sight | Elsie Lincoln Benedict and Ralph Paine Benedict
  • For out of this that we call Atheism come so many other isms and falsities, each falsity with its misery at its heels!

    Past and Present | Thomas Carlyle

British Dictionary definitions for ism (1 of 3)


/ (ˈɪzəm) /

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

British Dictionary definitions for ISM (2 of 3)


abbreviation for
  1. interstellar medium

British Dictionary definitions for -ism (3 of 3)


suffix forming nouns
  1. indicating an action, process, or result: criticism; terrorism

  2. indicating a state or condition: paganism

  1. indicating a doctrine, system, or body of principles and practices: Leninism; spiritualism

  2. indicating behaviour or a characteristic quality: heroism

  3. indicating a characteristic usage, esp of a language: colloquialism; Scotticism

  4. indicating prejudice on the basis specified: sexism; ageism

Origin of -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