See also: Nihilism



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From German Nihilismus, itself from Latin nihil ‎(nil, nothing) + German -ismus ‎(-ism), coined in 1817 by German philosopher Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi, but repeatedly 'reinvented'.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈnaɪ(h)ɨ̞lɪz(ə)m/, /ˈnɪhɨ̞lɪz(ə)m/, /ˈniː(h)ɨ̞lɪz(ə)m/
  • (U.S.) IPA(key): /ˈnaɪəˌlɪz(ə)m/, /ˈniəˌlɪz(ə)m/
  • (file)


nihilism ‎(countable and uncountable, plural nihilisms)

  1. (philosophy) A philosophical doctrine grounded on the negation of one or more meaningful aspects of life.
  2. (ethics) The rejection of inherent or objective moral principles.
  3. (politics) The rejection of non-rationalized or non-proven assertions in the social and political spheres of society.
  4. (politics, historical) A Russian movement of the 1860s that rejected all authority and promoted the use of violence for political change.
  5. The belief that all endeavors are ultimately futile and devoid of meaning.
    • "...the band members sweat hard enough to earn their pretensions, and maybe even their nihilism" (rock critic Dave Marsh, reviewing the band XTC's album Go)
  6. Contradiction (not always deliberate) between behavior and espoused principle, to such a degree that all possible espoused principle is voided.
  7. The deliberate refusal of belief, to the point that belief itself is rejected as untenable.

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