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[ee-thos, ee-thohs, eth-os, -ohs] /ˈi θɒs, ˈi θoʊs, ˈɛθ ɒs, -oʊs/
Sociology. the fundamental character or spirit of a culture; the underlying sentiment that informs the beliefs, customs, or practices of a group or society; dominant assumptions of a people or period:
In the Greek ethos the individual was highly valued.
the character or disposition of a community, group, person, etc.
the moral element in dramatic literature that determines a character's action rather than his or her thought or emotion.
Origin of ethos
1850-55; < Greek: custom, habit, character Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for ethos
  • It's a song that expresses a rock ethos many aspire to.
  • Part of the company ethos is to listen to fans.
  • Rodriguez combines sharp satire and timely political commentary with a decidedly B-movie ethos.
  • The concept surely grates on the scientific ethos.
  • This ethos shaped the American news media for more than a century.
  • Foster's first short story collection captures the blunt ethos of underachievers.
  • Our ethos is to look at business schools from the students' perspective.
  • The old ethos of equality has gone.
  • Blake's ethos, then and now, is to publish books he can imagine in the top 10.
  • He lacks ethos and that weakens his argument.
British Dictionary definitions for ethos


the distinctive character, spirit, and attitudes of a people, culture, era, etc: the revolutionary ethos
Word Origin
C19: from Late Latin: habit, from Greek
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for ethos

revived by Palgrave in 1851 from Greek ethos "moral character, nature, disposition, habit, custom," from suffixed form of PIE root *s(w)e- (see idiom). An important concept in Aristotle (e.g. "Rhetoric" II xii-xiv).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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