[sey-diz-uh m, sad-iz-]


Psychiatry. the condition in which sexual gratification depends on causing pain or degradation to others.Compare masochism.
any enjoyment in being cruel.
extreme cruelty.

Origin of sadism

1885–90; < French sadisme; see Sade, -ism
Related formssa·dist, noun, adjectivesa·dis·tic [suh-dis-tik, sey-, sa-] /səˈdɪs tɪk, seɪ-, sæ-/, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for sadism

malice, cruelty, sadomasochism, masochism

Examples from the Web for sadism

Contemporary Examples of sadism

Historical Examples of sadism

  • Certain reminiscences of sadism are common both in man and woman.

  • This is so to speak an inversion of sadism as regards cause and effect.

  • The journal in question attributes with good reason this fantasy to sadism.

  • It is a dysgenic factor but much less important than sadism.


    William J. Robinson

  • And it was here that I detected a trace of sadism in my lovely wife.

British Dictionary definitions for sadism



the gaining of pleasure or sexual gratification from the infliction of pain and mental suffering on another personSee also algolagnia Compare masochism
Derived Formssadist, nounsadistic (səˈdɪstɪk), adjectivesadistically, adverb

Word Origin for sadism

C19: from French, named after the Marquis de Sade
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 sadism

"love of cruelty," 1888, from French sadisme, from the name of Count Donatien A.F. de Sade (1740-1815). Not a marquis, though usually now called one, he was notorious for cruel sexual practices he described in his novels.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

sadism in Medicine


[sādĭz′əm, sădĭz′-]


The act or an instance of deriving sexual gratification from infliction of pain on others.
A psychosexual disorder in which sexual gratification is derived from infliction of pain on others.
Related formssadist•distic (sə-dĭstĭk) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

sadism in Culture


[(say-diz-uhm, sad-iz-uhm)]

Abnormal behavior characterized by deriving sexual gratification from inflicting pain on others. More loosely, sadism refers to deriving any pleasure from inflicting pain. Named after the Marquis de Sade, a French author of the eighteenth century, whose works describe many sexual perversities.

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.