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From French terrorisme. Surface etymology is terror +‎ -ism.

The word first appears in English in 1795 in reference to the Jacobins of France, who ruled during the ‘Reign of Terror.’


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terrorism ‎(usually uncountable, plural terrorisms)

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  1. The deliberate commission of an act of violence to create an emotional response through the suffering of the victims in the furtherance of a political or social agenda.
  2. Violence against civilians to achieve military or political objectives.
  3. A form of psychological manipulation through warfare to the purpose of political or religious gains, by means of deliberately creating a climate of fear amongst the inhabitants of a specific geographical region.
    • 2012 December 14, Simon Jenkins, “We mustn't overreact to North Korea boys' toys”, The Guardian Weekly, volume 188, number 2, page 23: 
      The threat of terrorism to the British lies in the overreaction to it of British governments. Each one in turn clicks up the ratchet of surveillance, intrusion and security. Each one diminishes liberty. David Cameron insists that his latest communications data bill is “vital to counter terrorism”. Yet terror is mayhem. It is no threat to freedom. That threat is from counter-terror, from ministers capitulating to securocrats.


Derived terms[edit]



terror +‎ -ism



terrorism c

  1. terrorism


Related terms[edit]