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From the suffix -ism (belief), particularly (in the 19th century) in the sense of "social movement". Compare phobia, from -phobia, sophy, from -sophy, itis, from -itis, and ana, from -ana.



ism (plural isms)

  1. An ideology, system of thought, or practice that can be described by a word ending in -ism.
    • 1843, Thomas Carlyle, Past and Present, book 2, ch. XV, Practical — Devotional
      […] his religion, his worship was like his daily bread to him; — which he did not take the trouble to talk much about; which he merely ate at stated intervals, and lived and did his work upon! This is Abbot Samson’s Catholicism of the Twelfth Century; — something like the Ism of all true men in all true centuries, I fancy! Alas, compared with any of the Isms current in these poor days, what a thing!
    • 1965, Bertram David Wolfe, Marxism, One Hundred Years in the Life of a Doctrine, p. 357,
      An ism does not have to possess the fearful implements of state power to cut off a a deviant or heretical member.
    • 1969, Walter E. Minchinton, Mercantilism; System Or Expediency?, p. xi,
      In his exposition, he has failed to achieve the identification of situation, theory, and policy necessary to create an ism.
    • 1986, Matthew Broderick (as Ferris Bueller), Ferris Bueller’s Day Off:
      Isms in my opinion are not good. A person should not believe in an ism – he should believe in himself.
    • 1994, Kenneth Kaye, Workplace Wars and How to End Them, p. 70,
      It is important to distinguish between an ism and a mere generalization about group differences. Generalizations that have statistical validity are not isms. An ism assumes that the generalization applies to an individual.
  2. Specifically, a form of discrimination, such as racism or sexism.


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.

See alsoEdit

Further readingEdit

  • "isms" in Raymond Williams, Keywords (revised), 1983, Fontana Press, page 173.





  1. root (of a plant)

Cypriot ArabicEdit


From Arabic اِسْم(ism), from Proto-Semitic *šim-.



  1. name



ism (plural ismlar)

  1. This term needs a translation to English. Please help out and add a translation, then remove the text {{rfdef}}.