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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/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈnaɪəˌlɪz(ə)m/, /ˈni.əˌlɪz(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 understanding that all endeavors are devoid of objective 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)
    Synonyms: fatalism
  6. The refusal of belief, that belief itself is untenable.

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