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[fohk-weyz] /ˈfoʊkˌweɪz/
plural noun, Sociology
the ways of living, thinking, and acting in a human group, built up without conscious design but serving as compelling guides of conduct.
Origin of folkways
folk + ways; term introduced in a book of the same title (1907) by W. G. Sumner Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for folkway
Historical Examples
  • The same is true of any folkway so long as it is not yet doubted.

    Folkways William Graham Sumner
  • Not subscribing to the folkway that prescribes seasick intoxication as an expression of joy, we did the town with discrimination.

British Dictionary definitions for folkway


plural noun
(sociol) traditional and customary ways of living
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 folkway



coined 1907 in book of the same name by U.S. sociologist William Graham Sumner (1840-1910), who also is credited with ethnocentrism, found in the same book.

Folkways are habits of the individual and customs of the society which arise from efforts to satisfy needs. ... Then they become regulative for succeeding generations and take on the character of a social force. [Sumner, "Folkways"]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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