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romanticism

[ roh-man-tuh-siz-uhm ]
/ roʊˈmæn təˌsɪz əm /
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noun
romantic spirit or tendency.
(usually initial capital letter) the Romantic style or movement in literature and art, or adherence to its principles (contrasted with classicism).
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Origin of romanticism

First recorded in 1795–1805; romantic + -ism

OTHER WORDS FROM romanticism

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022

MORE ABOUT ROMANTICISM

What is Romanticism?

Romanticism was an artistic movement that lasted from the end of the 1700s to the end of the 1830s. The art of Romanticism focused on creativity and emotions.

Romanticism influenced all of the arts but was particularly seen in poetry, painting, and music. Romanticism was inspired by, and named after, the romances from the Middle Ages. These poems and stories often included demonstrations of heroism, chivalry, love, and passion. Much of Romantic art had the same themes and characteristics as these older works.

In Romantic literature, common themes included natural imagery, passionate struggle and overcoming personal hardships, and the supernatural. Later on, Romantic writers created nationalistic works inspired by their cultural folklore and art. Romantic writers include William Blake, John Keats, and Mary Shelley.

Romantic painters, such as Eugene Delacroix and Francisco Goya, expressed passion and emotion through works that often depicted nature, landscapes, and supernatural imagery, as well as nationalism and cultural pride.

Just like their counterparts, Romantic musicians also strove to break rules and push boundaries. They too focused on themes of human expression and often told stories of human passion through their musical compositions. Well-known Romantic musicians include Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert, and Peter Tchaikovsky.

Why is Romanticism important?

The first records of Romanticism come from around 1795, near the beginning of the Romantic period itself. The term comes from the word romantic, referring to an artistic style emphasizing imagination and emotion, and the suffix ism, which expresses a thought process or movement.

Romanticism was a complete reversal of the movement of Classicism that came before it. Classicism focused on order, logic, and rational thinking, while Romanticism focused on emotions, heroism, creativity, a breaking of rules, and an exploration of the supernatural and occult.

Scholars place the beginning of Romanticism in 1798 with the publication of Lyrical Ballads by poets William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. In the second printing of this collection, Wordsworth defined poetry as the “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings,” and this definition is also a very good description of Romanticism itself.

Did you know … ?

While Romanticism was primarily centered in Europe, it would later spark a Romantic movement in America as well. Some of the most famous American Romantics include Edgar Allen Poe, Emily Dickinson, Washington Irving, and Henry David Thoreau.

What are real-life examples of Romanticism?

Many of our favorite works of art are examples of Romanticism and people still talk about the movement.

What other words are related to Romanticism?

Quiz yourself!

Which of the following themes was NOT associated with Romanticism?

A. Love and passion
B. Nature
C. Order and reason
D. The supernatural

How to use romanticism in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for romanticism

romanticism
/ (rəʊˈmæntɪˌsɪzəm) /

noun
(often capital) the theory, practice, and style of the romantic art, music, and literature of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, usually opposed to classicism
romantic attitudes, ideals, or qualities

Derived forms of romanticism

romanticist, noun
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

Cultural definitions for romanticism (1 of 4)

romanticism

A movement in literature and the fine arts, beginning in the early nineteenth century, that stressed personal emotion, free play of the imagination, and freedom from rules of form. Among the leaders of romanticism in world literature were Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Victor Hugo, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Friedrich von Schiller. (See also under “Literature in English, Conventions of Written English, and Fine Arts.”)

Cultural definitions for romanticism (2 of 4)

romanticism

A movement in literature and the fine arts, beginning in the early nineteenth century, that stressed personal emotion, free play of the imagination, and freedom from rules of form. Among the leaders of romanticism in English literature were William Blake, Lord Byron, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and William Wordsworth.

Cultural definitions for romanticism (3 of 4)

romanticism

A movement that shaped all the arts in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Romanticism generally stressed the essential goodness of human beings (see Jean-Jacques Rousseau), celebrated nature rather than civilization, and valued emotion and imagination over reason. (Compare classicism.)

Cultural definitions for romanticism (4 of 4)

romanticism

A movement in literature, music, and painting in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Romanticism has often been called a rebellion against an overemphasis on reason in the arts. It stressed the essential goodness of human beings (see Jean-Jacques Rousseau), celebrated nature rather than civilization, and valued emotion and imagination over reason. Some major figures of romanticism in the fine arts are the composers Robert Schumann, Felix Mendelssohn, and Johannes Brahms, and the painter Joseph Turner.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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