[ iz-uh m ]
/ ˈɪz əm /


a distinctive doctrine, theory, system, or practice: This is the age of isms.

Origin of ism

extracted from words with the suffix -ism

Definition for ism (2 of 2)


a suffix appearing in loanwords from Greek, where it was used to form action nouns from verbs (baptism); on this model, used as a productive suffix in the formation of nouns denoting action or practice, state or condition, principles, doctrines, a usage or characteristic, devotion or adherence, etc. (criticism; barbarism; Darwinism; despotism; plagiarism; realism; witticism; intellectualism).
Compare -ist, -ize.

Origin of -ism

< Greek -ismos, -isma noun suffixes, often directly, often through Latin -ismus, -isma, sometimes through French -isme, German -ismus (all ultimately < Gk)

Example sentences from the Web for ism

British Dictionary definitions for ism (1 of 3)

/ (ˈɪzəm) /


informal, often derogatory an unspecified doctrine, system, or practice

British Dictionary definitions for ism (2 of 3)


abbreviation for

interstellar medium

British Dictionary definitions for ism (3 of 3)


suffix forming nouns

indicating an action, process, or result criticism; terrorism
indicating a state or condition paganism
indicating a doctrine, system, or body of principles and practices Leninism; spiritualism
indicating behaviour or a characteristic quality heroism
indicating a characteristic usage, esp of a language colloquialism; Scotticism
indicating prejudice on the basis specified sexism; ageism

Word Origin for -ism

from Old French -isme, from Latin -ismus, from Greek -ismos

Medical definitions for ism



Action, process; practice:vegetarianism.
Characteristic behavior or quality:puerilism.
State; condition; quality:senilism.
State or condition resulting from an excess of something specified:strychninism.
Doctrine; theory; system of principles:Darwinism.