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From ism, with with jocular substitution of was for is.[1]



wasm (plural wasms)

  1. (humorous) A doctrine, ideology, rule, or theory that is no longer current or fashionable.
    • 1960, Peter Viereck, “The Global Lobal Blues [from The Tree Witch]”, in The New Mexico Quarterly, volume 30, Albuquerque, N.M.: Faculty of University of New Mexico, OCLC 8263603, page 356; reprinted in “The Mob within the Heart”, in Strict Wildness: Discoveries in Poetry and History, New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 2008, →ISBN, part 2 (History: Its Sadness), page 137:
      Progress is a PLAStic bag; / Come stick in your head and what AILS you will gag. / Gasping the BLUE-in-the-face blues. / When our propaganda spasms turn your isms into wasms, / We'll bag the earth in a PLAStic globe and disconnect your frontal lobe / With our gadget-pop Agitprop air-jet-hop think-no-more blues.
    • 1996 March 10, Richard Taruskin, “Classical view: How talented composers become useless”, in The New York Times[1], archived from the original on 5 October 2016:
      The nice thing about an ism, someone once observed, is how quickly it becomes a wasm. Some musical wasms – academic-wasm, for example, and its dependent varieties of modern-wasm and Serial-wasm – continue to linger on artificial life support, though, and continue to threaten the increasingly fragile classical ecosystem.
    • 2000 fall, Donald S. Lopez Jr., Tricycle: The Buddhist Review[2], volume 10, number 1, New York, N.Y.: The Tricycle Foundation, OCLC 968972014, archived from the original on 12 July 2016, page 42, column 1:
      Dwight Eisenhower, a president not particularly remembered for his wit, once remarked that "all isms are wasms." He was presumably referring, rather presciently, to the largely forgotten isms that were once perceived as a threat to truth, justice, and the American way: Marxism, socialism, communism.




  1. ^ wasm, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford: Oxford University Press, July 2018.