Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



From Ancient Greek ᾰ̓- (a-, the alpha privative, a suffix forming words having a sense opposite to the word or stem to which it is attached) + σφέτερος (sphéteros, theirs, their own) (from σφεῖς (spheîs, they; themselves) + -τερος (-teros, suffix forming adjectives expressing some notion of contrast)) +‎ -ism, influenced by σφετερισμός (spheterismós, usurpation).[1] The word was coined by English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834) in a 1794 letter to fellow poet Robert Southey (1774–1843).[2]



aspheterism (uncountable)

  1. (dated, rare) The view that all property should be in common ownership and that no individual should benefit from private possession. [from 1794]
    Synonym: communism
    • 1794 September 20, Robert Southey, chapter III, in Charles Cuthbert Southey, editor, The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey. Edited by His Son, [...] In Six Volumes, volume I, 2nd edition, London: Printed for Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, [], published 1849, OCLC 458976780, page 221:
      We preached Pantisocracy and Aspheterism everywhere. These, Tom, are two new words, the first signifying the equal government of all, and the other the generalisation of individual property; words well understood in the city of Bristol.
      The date of the letter is from Robert Southey ([1849?]), chapter III, in Charles Cuthbert Southey, editor, The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers, OCLC 511280, page 75.
    • 1895 March, “Robert Southey”, in Macmillan’s Magazine, volume LXXI, number 425, London: Macmillan and Co. [], OCLC 1042245262, page 351:
      In short he [Robert Southey] was always guided by his sympathies; and as he was never in his hottest days of Aspheterism anything like a consistent and reasoned Radical, so in his most rancorous days of reaction he never was a consistent and reasoned Tory.
    • 2015, Sheldon Spear, “French and British Refugees on the Susquehanna”, in Pennsylvania Histories: Two Hundred Years of Personalities and Events 1750–1950, Lanham, Md.: Lehigh University Press; Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, →ISBN, section B (Events), page 80:
      A more free-wheeling verbal invention of [Samuel Taylor] Coleridge's, "Aspheterism," meant the absence of private property. "Aspheterism" would vanquish materialism and help raise a generation of children untainted by corrupt values.
    • 2016, Björn Bosserhoff, “Almost Susquehanna”, in Radical Contra-Diction: Coleridge, Revolution, Apostasy, Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, →ISBN, part 1 (Catching Fire: A Politico-biographical Account, 1792–96), page 64:
      "Aspheterism," then, the belief that only an abolition of private property would bring about the desired moral transformation, lies at the very heart of Pantisocracy. [Robert] Southey and [Samuel Taylor] Coleridge believed that once people returned to sharing a "common ground," they would no longer feel envy or a need to compete. [] But "aspheterism" was not the only milestone on their path to universal philanthropy; it was accompanied by ideas about improving everyday interpersonal behaviour.

Derived terms[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ James A. H. Murray [et al.], editors (1884–1928), “Aspheterism”, in A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles (Oxford English Dictionary), volume I (A–B), London: Clarendon Press, OCLC 15566697, page 495, column 2; “aspheterism, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 1885.
  2. ^ Rachel Hewitt (2017) A Revolution of Feeling: The Decade that Forged the Modern Mind[1], London: Granta, →ISBN.

Further reading[edit]