1817, "the doctrine of negation" (in ref. to religion or morals), from Ger. Nihilismus,
from L. nihil
"nothing at all" (see nil
), coined by Ger. philosopher Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi (1743-1819). In philosophy, an extreme form of skepticism (1836). The political sense was first used by Ger. journalist Joseph von Görres (1776-1848). Turgenev used the Rus. form of the word (nigilizm
) in "Fathers and Children" (1862) and claimed to have invented it. With a capital N-,
it refers to the Rus. revolutionary anarchism of the period 1860-1917, supposedly so called because "nothing" that then existed found favor in their eyes. Nihilist
first attested 1836, in the religious or philosophical sense; in the Rus. political sense, it is recorded from 1871.