[man-uh-riz-uh m]


a habitual or characteristic manner, mode, or way of doing something; distinctive quality or style, as in behavior or speech: He has an annoying mannerism of tapping his fingers while he talks. They copied his literary mannerisms but always lacked his ebullience.
marked or excessive adherence to an unusual or a particular manner, especially if affected: Natural courtesy is a world apart from snobbish mannerism.
(usually initial capital letter) a style in the fine arts developed principally in Europe during the 16th century, chiefly characterized by a complex perspectival system, elongation of forms, strained gestures or poses of figures, and intense, often strident color.

Origin of mannerism

First recorded in 1795–1805; manner1 + -ism
Related formsman·ner·ist, nounman·ner·is·tic, adjectiveman·ner·is·ti·cal·ly, adverbnon·man·ner·is·tic, adjectivesem·i·man·ner·is·tic, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for mannerism

Historical Examples of mannerism

  • "I turn against you, if at all, for a lack of mannerism," said Vera briskly.

    Love and Lucy

    Maurice Henry Hewlett

  • There was something in the action that suggested more than a mannerism.

    The Shrieking Pit

    Arthur J. Rees

  • He had only to exaggerate this manner, or mannerism, to set London talking.


    Elizabeth Robins Pennell

  • Such a purpose degenerates into affectation, and becomes a mannerism.

  • His emotions were dynamic, and in his every mannerism there was distinction.

British Dictionary definitions for mannerism



a distinctive and individual gesture or trait; idiosyncrasy
(often capital) a principally Italian movement in art and architecture between the High Renaissance and Baroque periods (1520–1600) that sought to represent an ideal of beauty rather than natural images of it, using characteristic distortion and exaggeration of human proportions, perspective, etc
adherence to a distinctive or affected manner, esp in art or literature
Derived Formsmannerist, nounmanneristic or manneristical, adjectivemanneristically, adverb
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 mannerism

"excessive use of distinctive methods in art or literature," 1803, from manner + -ism. Meaning "an instance of mannerism, habitual peculiarity" is from 1819. Related: Mannerisms.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

mannerism in Medicine




A distinctive behavioral trait; an idiosyncrasy.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.