• synonyms


[sing-kri-tiz-uh m, sin-]
  1. the attempted reconciliation or union of different or opposing principles, practices, or parties, as in philosophy or religion.
  2. Grammar. the merging, as by historical change in a language, of two or more categories in a specified environment into one, as, in nonstandard English, the use of was with both singular and plural subjects, while in standard English was is used with singular subjects (except for you in the second person singular) and were with plural subjects.
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Origin of syncretism

1610–20; < New Latin syncretismus < Greek synkrētismós union of Cretans, i.e., a united front of two opposing parties against a common foe, derivative of synkrēt(ízein) to syncretize + -ismos -ism
Related formssyn·cret·ic [sin-kret-ik] /sɪnˈkrɛt ɪk/, syn·cret·i·cal, syn·cre·tis·tic [sing-kri-tis-tik, sin-] /ˌsɪŋ krɪˈtɪs tɪk, ˌsɪn-/, adjectivesyn·cre·tist, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for syncretistic

Historical Examples

  • The field was prepared for the formation of syncretistic sects.

    History of Dogma, Volume 1 (of 7)

    Adolph Harnack

  • Gnostic or syncretistic Judæo-Christians who are also termed Ebionites.

  • Christianity was already a syncretistic religion in the second century.

    Outspoken Essays

    William Ralph Inge

  • The Simonian system at most might be named, on the basis of the syncretistic religion founded by Simon Magus.

  • We know better, but still very imperfectly, certain forms of the syncretistic Jewish Christianity, from the Philosoph.

British Dictionary definitions for syncretistic


  1. the tendency to syncretize
  2. the historical tendency of languages to reduce their use of inflection, as in the development of Old English with all its case endings into Modern English
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Derived Formssyncretic (sɪŋˈkrɛtɪk) or syncretistic, adjectivesyncretist, noun

Word Origin

C17: from New Latin syncrētismus, from Greek sunkrētismos alliance of Cretans, from sunkrētizein to join forces (in the manner of the Cretan towns), from syn- + Krēs a Cretan
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 syncretistic



"reconciliation of different beliefs," 1610s, from Modern Latin syncretismus (David Pareus, 1615), from Greek synkretismos "union of communities," from synkretizein "to combine against a common enemy," from syn- "together" (see syn-) + second element of uncertain origin. One theory connects it with kretismos "lying," from kretizein "to lie like a Cretan;" another connects it with the stem of kerannynai "to mix, blend;" krasis "mixture."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper