Stories We Like: A Guide to the Comma
1836 in the religious or philosophical sense, from French nihiliste, from Latin nihil (see nihilism). In the Russian political sense, it is recorded from 1871. Related: Nihilistic.
1817, "the doctrine of negation" (in reference to religion or morals), from German Nihilismus, from Latin nihil "nothing at all" (see nil), coined by German philosopher Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi (1743-1819). In philosophy, an extreme form of skepticism (1836). The political sense was first used by German journalist Joseph von Görres (1776-1848). Turgenev used the Russian form of the word (nigilizm) in "Fathers and Children" (1862) and claimed to have invented it. With a capital N-, it refers to the Russian revolutionary anarchism of the period 1860-1917, supposedly so called because "nothing" that then existed found favor in their eyes.
nihilism ni·hil·ism (nī'ə-lĭz'əm, nē'-)
The belief that destruction of existing political or social institutions is necessary for future improvement.
A delusion, experienced in some mental disorders, that the world or one's mind, body, or self does not exist.