Word of the Day

Monday, August 25, 2014

ethos

\EE-thos, EE-thohs, ETH-os, -ohs\ , noun;
1.
Sociology. the fundamental character or spirit of a culture; the underlying sentiment that informs the beliefs, customs, or practices of a group or society; dominant assumptions of a people or period: In the Greek ethos the individual was highly valued.
2.
the character or disposition of a community, group, person, etc.
3.
the moral element in dramatic literature that determines a character's action rather than his or her thought or emotion.
Quotes:
These stories and countless others attest to the democratic ethos of social mobility and fluidity, heavily inflected by the Romantic ethos of "rugged individualism" and, however reductivist, Emersonian "self-reliance."
-- Ann Lauterbach, The Night Sky: Writings on the Poetics of Experience, 2005
Irony is not dead--it's (ahem) a useful rhetorical tool--but it's certainly not the ethos of our age.
-- Jonathan D. Fitzgerald, "Sincerity, Not Irony, Is Our Age's Ethos," The Atlantic, Nov. 20, 2012
Origin:
Ethos comes from the Greek term meaning "custom; habit; character," and provides the root for the term ethics. It entered English in the 1600s.
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