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[pes-uh-miz-uh m] /ˈpɛs əˌmɪz əm/
the tendency to see, anticipate, or emphasize only bad or undesirable outcomes, results, conditions, problems, etc.:
His pessimism about the future of our country depresses me.
the doctrine that the existing world is the worst of all possible worlds, or that all things naturally tend to evil.
the belief that the evil and pain in the world are not compensated for by goodness and happiness.
Origin of pessimism
1785-95; < Latin pessim(us), suppletive superlative of malus bad + -ism; modeled on optimism
Related forms
overpessimism, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for pessimism
  • We wonder whether the wisdom of our ancestors was all wrong upon another point-- the proclivity of old age toward pessimism.
  • And so, those folks who think student writing keeps getting worse need to check their pessimism for evidence.
  • There is nothing new in society being gripped by anxiety about the present and pessimism about the future.
  • Intrusive memories and spiraling pessimism worm their way into every moment of consciousness.
  • Once again, his pessimism proved to be deadly accurate.
  • pessimism as philosophy is skeptical of the idea of progress.
  • We all know that to get the economy on track you need government spending to overcome private pessimism.
  • We forgot what was learned a generation ago and this article is substantiation of the initial pessimism.
  • The pessimism stems from a legendary episode in the history of petroleum geology.
  • We are settling into a dangerous national pessimism.
British Dictionary definitions for pessimism


the tendency to expect the worst and see the worst in all things
the doctrine of the ultimate triumph of evil over good
the doctrine that this world is corrupt and that man's sojourn in it is a preparation for some other existence
Derived Forms
pessimist, noun
pessimistic, (rare) pessimistical, adjective
pessimistically, adverb
Word Origin
C18: from Latin pessimus worst, from malus bad
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 pessimism

1794 "worst condition possible," borrowed (by Coleridge) from French pessimisme, formed (on model of French optimisme) from Latin pessimus "worst," originally "bottom-most," from PIE *ped-samo-, superlative of root *pes- "foot" (see foot (n.)). As a name given to the doctrines of Schopenhauer, Hartmann, etc., that this is the worst possible world, or that everything tends toward evil, it is first recorded 1835, from German pessimismus (Schopenhauer, 1819). The attempt to make a verb of it as pessimize (1862) did not succeed.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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