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Etymology 1[edit]

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Coined, theo- +‎ -ism.[1][2] ultimately from Ancient Greek θεός (theós, god).[1][2][3] Attested in English from 1678, theist being attested 16 years earlier in 1662. Cognate French théisme,[2] as in Diderot Principes de la philosophie morale (1745), which was probably borrowed from English.[4]


  • IPA(key): /ˈθiː.ɪz.əm/
  • (file)


theism (countable and uncountable, plural theisms)

  1. Belief in the existence of at least one deity.
  2. (strictly) Belief in the existence of a personal creator god, goddess, gods and/or goddesses present and active in the governance and organization of the world and the universe. The God may be known by or through revelation.
    • 1999, Jeaneane D. Fowler, Humanism: Beliefs & Practices, page 66
      The term stands in contradistinction to theism which, in its widest sense, means belief in a personal god, goddess, gods and/or goddesses.
Related terms[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Walter W. Skeat, editor (1910), “Theism”, in An Etymological Dictionary of the English Language, new edition, Oxford: The Clarendon Press, →OCLC, page 640.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 theism, n.1”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 2015-03-18.
  3. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2024) “theism”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.
  4. ^ Etymology and history of theisme”, in Trésor de la langue française informatisé [Digitized Treasury of the French Language], 2012.

Etymology 2[edit]

Borrowing from New Latin thea (tea, noun) + English -ism.[1]


  • IPA(key): /ˈtiː.ɪz.əm/
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theism (uncountable) (pathology)

  1. A morbid condition resulting from excessive consumption of tea.[2][3]
    Synonyms: theaism, theinism
    Coordinate term: caffeinism
    • 1888, John C. Cutter, “Narcotics, stimulants, and depressants”, in Comprehensive anatomy, physiology, and hygiene : adapted for schools, academies, colleges, and families : with instruction on the effects of stimulants and narcotics, and brief directions for illustrative dissections of mammals, for elementary work with the microscope, for physiological demonstrations on the human body, and for the management of emergent cases, 3rd edition, Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, →OCLC, page 350:
      "Theism" belongs to that genus of disease in which morphinism, caffeinism, and vanillaism belong.
    • 1906 September 15, “Our breakfast beverages”, in The British Medical Journal[1], volume 2, London: British Medical Association, →ISSN, page 653:
      A single cup of tea may cause excitement and insomnia, while a stronger dose rarely fails to produce acute "theism," characterized by excitement, hyperaesthesia, palpitation, sweats, and frequent micturition; it may occasionally simulate delirium tremens, []
  1. ^ theism”, in The Century Dictionary [], New York, N.Y.: The Century Co., 1911, →OCLC.
  2. ^ theism, n.2”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, 2015-03-18.
  3. ^ George M. Gould with R. J. E. Scott (1919) “theism”, in The Practitioner's Medical Dictionary, 3rd rev. and enl. edition, Philadelphia, Pa.: P. Blakiston's Son, →OCLC, page 883.