From the surname of the German alchemist and magician Johann Georg Faust (c. 1466 or 1480 – c. 1541) +‎ -ian (suffix forming adjectives or nouns meaning ‘belonging to, relating to, or like’). According to medieval legend, Faust made a contract with the Devil, exchanging his soul for unlimited knowledge and worldly pleasures. Purported tales about Faust’s life first appeared in print in an anonymously written chapbook, Historia von D. Johann Fausten (1587).[1] The story was then particularly popularized by two plays, Christopher Marlowe’s The Tragicall History of D. Faustus (first published 1604)[2] and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Faust (published 1808 and 1832).[3]



Faustian (comparative more Faustian, superlative most Faustian)

  1. Of or pertaining to Faust, especially in the sense of being willing to abandon one's principles or values in order to pursue knowledge, wealth or other benefits.
    • 1867, Karl Marx, chapter 24, in Samuel Moore; Edward Aveling, transl., Das Kapital, volume I, part VII:
      But along with this growth, there is at the same time developed in his breast, a Faustian conflict between the passion for accumulation, and the desire for enjoyment.
    • 1997, Mihai Nadin, The Civilization of Illiteracy[1]:
      Each transaction in the transient corresponds to a pragmatics that transforms the Faustian promise into an advertising slogan.
    • 2021 February 2, Katharine Murphy, “Scott Morrison must heed the lesson of Donald Trump and slap down Craig Kelly”, in The Guardian[2]:
      Serious times demand honesty and self-awareness from people in positions of authority and, at the end of the day, political parties giving succour to fringe views about life-and-death matters is a Faustian pact.

Derived termsEdit



  1. ^ Historia von D. Johann Fausten, dem weitbeschreyten Zauberer und Schwartzkünstler, wie er sich gegen den Teuffel auff eine benandte Zeit verschrieben [...] bis er endtlich seinen wol verdienten Lohn empfangen. Mehrentheils aus seinen eygenen hinterlassenen Schriften [...] zusammengezogen [...] [The History of Dr. Johann Fausten, the Greatly Bewitched Magician and Practitioner of the Black Arts, how He Committed Himself to the Devil for a Certain Time until He [...] Finally Received His Deserved Reward. Much of It has been Summarized from His Own Writings Left Behind [...]], Frankfurt am Main, Germany: Johann Spies, 1587, OCLC 84047397.
  2. ^ Ch[risopher] Marl[owe] (1604) The Tragicall History of D. Faustus: [], London: Printed by V[alentine] S[immes] for Thomas Bushell, OCLC 1049029231.
  3. ^ [Johann Wolfgang von] Goethe (1808) Faust. Eine Tragödie. [Faust. A Tragedy.], Tübingen: In der J[ohann] G[eorg] Cotta'schen Buchhandlung, OCLC 41086303; [Johann Wolfgang von] Goethe (1832) Faust. Der Tragödie zweyter Theil in fünf Acten. [Faust. The Second Part of the Tragedy in Five Acts.] (Goethe’s nachgelassene Werke [Goethe’s Posthumous Works]; 1), Tübingen: [Johann Georg] Cotta, OCLC 310766352.