[pyoo r-i-tn-iz-uh m]


the principles and practices of the Puritans.
(sometimes lowercase) extreme strictness in moral or religious matters, often to excess; rigid austerity.

Origin of Puritanism

First recorded in 1565–75; Puritan + -ism
Related formsan·ti-Pu·ri·tan·ism, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for puritanism


Examples from the Web for puritanism

Contemporary Examples of puritanism

  • Positive thinking is Puritanism with a capitalist face, she believes.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Why Are You So Damn Happy?

    Megan Hustad

    October 15, 2009

  • The Obamas have added to the angst with intimations of a new Puritanism in our dire future.

    The Daily Beast logo
    But Can We Still Have Fun?

    Kathleen Parker

    January 19, 2009

Historical Examples of puritanism

Word Origin and History for puritanism



1570s, from Puritan + -ism. Originally in reference to specific doctrines; from 1590s of excessive moral strictness generally. In this sense, famously defined by H.L. Mencken (1920) as "the haunting fear that someone, somewhere may be happy."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper