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[op-tuh-miz-uh m] /ˈɒp təˌmɪz əm/
a disposition or tendency to look on the more favorable side of events or conditions and to expect the most favorable outcome.
the belief that good ultimately predominates over evil in the world.
the belief that goodness pervades reality.
the doctrine that the existing world is the best of all possible worlds.
Origin of optimism
1730-40; < French optimisme < Latin optim(um) (see optimum) + French -isme -ism
Related forms
antioptimism, noun
overoptimism, noun
1. confidence, hopefulness, cheerfulness.
1, 2. pessimism, cynicism. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for optimism
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • According to the form of belief desired, it is called vanity, optimism, or religion.

    The Analysis of Mind Bertrand Russell
  • This optimism procured for Mr Verloc his fourth surprise of the day.

    The Secret Agent Joseph Conrad
  • Yet on one side he maintained that his own pessimism was more truly Christian than their optimism.

    Schopenhauer Thomas Whittaker
  • He was reposing in that pathetic condition of optimism induced by excess of fatigue.

    The Secret Agent Joseph Conrad
  • Is there more ground for the philosophy of optimism than for the philosophy of pessimism?

    Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Debate Index Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
British Dictionary definitions for optimism


the tendency to expect the best and see the best in all things
hopefulness; confidence
the doctrine of the ultimate triumph of good over evil
the philosophical doctrine that this is the best of all possible worlds
Compare pessimism
Derived Forms
optimist, noun
optimistic, optimistical, adjective
optimistically, adverb
Word Origin
C18: from French optimisme, from Latin optimus best, superlative of bonus good
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 optimism

1759 (in translations of Voltaire), from French optimisme (1737), from Modern Latin optimum, used by Gottfried Leibniz (in "Théodicée," 1710) to mean "the greatest good," from Latin optimus "the best" (see optimum). The doctrine holds that the actual world is the "best of all possible worlds," in which the creator accomplishes the most good at the cost of the least evil.

En termes de l'art, il l'appelle la raison du meilleur ou plus savamment encore, et Theologiquement autant que Géométriquement, le systême de l'Optimum, ou l'Optimisme. [Mémoires de Trévoux, Feb. 1737]
Launched out of philosophical jargon and into currency by Voltaire's satire on it in "Candide." General sense of "belief that good ultimately will prevail in the world" first attested 1841 in Emerson; meaning "tendency to take a hopeful view of things" first recorded 1819 in Shelley.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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optimism in Technology

What a programmer is full of after fixing the last bug and just before actually discovering the *next* last bug. Fred Brooks's book "The Mythical Man-Month" contains the following paragraph that describes this extremely well.
All programmers are optimists. Perhaps this modern sorcery especially attracts those who believe in happy endings and fairy god-mothers. Perhaps the hundreds of nitty frustrations drive away all but those who habitually focus on the end goal. Perhaps it is merely that computers are young, programmers are younger, and the young are always optimists. But however the selection process works, the result is indisputable: "This time it will surely run," or "I just found the last bug.".
See also Lubarsky's Law of Cybernetic Entomology.
[Jargon File]

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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