a disposition or tendency to look on the more favorable side of events or conditions and to expect the most favorable outcome.
the belief that good ultimately predominates over evil in the world.
the belief that goodness pervades reality.
the doctrine that the existing world is the best of all possible worlds.

Origin of optimism

1730–40; < French optimisme < Latin optim(um) (see optimum) + French -isme -ism
Related formsan·ti·op·ti·mism, nouno·ver·op·ti·mism, noun

Synonyms for optimism

Antonyms for optimism

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for optimism

Contemporary Examples of optimism

Historical Examples of optimism

  • Meantime the stronghold of Mauburn's optimism was being desperately stormed.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • This optimism procured for Mr Verloc his fourth surprise of the day.

    The Secret Agent

    Joseph Conrad

  • He was reposing in that pathetic condition of optimism induced by excess of fatigue.

    The Secret Agent

    Joseph Conrad

  • But his confidence was shaken, that was plain, and his optimism assumed.

    Thankful's Inheritance

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • Her optimism was the best sort of bracer for the captain's failing courage.

    Cy Whittaker's Place

    Joseph C. Lincoln

British Dictionary definitions for optimism



the tendency to expect the best and see the best in all things
hopefulness; confidence
the doctrine of the ultimate triumph of good over evil
the philosophical doctrine that this is the best of all possible worlds
Compare pessimism
Derived Formsoptimist, nounoptimistic or optimistical, adjectiveoptimistically, adverb

Word Origin for optimism

C18: from French optimisme, from Latin optimus best, superlative of bonus good
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 optimism

1759 (in translations of Voltaire), from French optimisme (1737), from Modern Latin optimum, used by Gottfried Leibniz (in "Théodicée," 1710) to mean "the greatest good," from Latin optimus "the best" (see optimum). The doctrine holds that the actual world is the "best of all possible worlds," in which the creator accomplishes the most good at the cost of the least evil.

En termes de l'art, il l'appelle la raison du meilleur ou plus savamment encore, et Theologiquement autant que Géométriquement, le systême de l'Optimum, ou l'Optimisme. [Mémoires de Trévoux, Feb. 1737]

Launched out of philosophical jargon and into currency by Voltaire's satire on it in "Candide." General sense of "belief that good ultimately will prevail in the world" first attested 1841 in Emerson; meaning "tendency to take a hopeful view of things" first recorded 1819 in Shelley.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper