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nihilism

[nahy-uh-liz-uh m, nee-] /ˈnaɪ əˌlɪz əm, ˈni-/
noun
1.
total rejection of established laws and institutions.
2.
anarchy, terrorism, or other revolutionary activity.
3.
total and absolute destructiveness, especially toward the world at large and including oneself:
the power-mad nihilism that marked Hitler's last years.
4.
Philosophy.
  1. an extreme form of skepticism: the denial of all real existence or the possibility of an objective basis for truth.
  2. nothingness or nonexistence.
5.
(sometimes initial capital letter) the principles of a Russian revolutionary group, active in the latter half of the 19th century, holding that existing social and political institutions must be destroyed in order to clear the way for a new state of society and employing extreme measures, including terrorism and assassination.
6.
annihilation of the self, or the individual consciousness, especially as an aspect of mystical experience.
Origin
1810-1820
1810-20; < Latin nihil nothing (variant of nihilum; see nil) + -ism
Related forms
nihilist, noun, adjective
nihilistic, adjective
antinihilism, noun
antinihilist, noun, adjective
nonnihilism, noun
nonnihilist, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for nihilist
  • The whole world suffers from this nihilist philosophy.
British Dictionary definitions for nihilist

nihilism

/ˈnaɪɪˌlɪzəm/
noun
1.
a complete denial of all established authority and institutions
2.
(philosophy) an extreme form of scepticism that systematically rejects all values, belief in existence, the possibility of communication, etc
3.
a revolutionary doctrine of destruction for its own sake
4.
the practice or promulgation of terrorism
Derived Forms
nihilist, noun, adjective
nihilistic, adjective
Word Origin
C19: from Latin nihil nothing + -ism, on the model of German Nihilismus

Nihilism

/ˈnaɪɪˌlɪzəm/
noun
1.
(in tsarist Russia) any of several revolutionary doctrines that upheld terrorism
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 nihilist
nihilism
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.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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nihilist in Medicine

nihilism ni·hil·ism (nī'ə-lĭz'əm, nē'-)
n.

  1. The belief that destruction of existing political or social institutions is necessary for future improvement.

  2. A delusion, experienced in some mental disorders, that the world or one's mind, body, or self does not exist.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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nihilist in Culture
nihilism [(neye-uh-liz-uhm, nee-uh-liz-uhm)]

An approach to philosophy that holds that human life is meaningless and that all religions, laws, moral codes, and political systems are thoroughly empty and false. The term is from the Latin nihil, meaning “nothing.”

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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