Words related to -ism


word-forming element making abstract nouns from adjectives and meaning "condition or quality of being ______," from Middle English -ite, from Old French -ete (Modern French -ité) and directly from Latin -itatem (nominative -itas), suffix denoting state or condition, composed of -i- (from the stem or else a connective) + the common abstract suffix -tas (see -ty (2)).

Roughly, the word in -ity usually means the quality of being what the adjective describes, or concretely an instance of the quality, or collectively all the instances; & the word in -ism means the disposition, or collectively all those who feel it. [Fowler]
ableism (n.)
by 1990 in feminist and lesbian literature, from able (adj.) + -ism. Defined in 1991 as "bias against the physically challenged and differently abled (formerly the disabled or handicapped) by the temporarily abled. The phrase 'blind to the truth' would be an example of ableist language." [U.S. News & World Report, vol. 110] Related: Ableist.
abolitionism (n.)
"belief in the principle of abolishing (something)," 1790, in a purely anti-slavery sense (distinguished from opposition to the slave trade); from abolition + -ism.
absenteeism (n.)

"practice or habit of being absent," 1822, from absentee + -ism; originally in reference to landlords, especially in Ireland, who lived at a distance from their estates (the earlier word was absenteeship (1778) and Johnson's dictionary has absentee in the landlord sense). In reference to pupils or workers from 1922.

absolutism (n.)

1753 in theology, of God's actions; 1830 in political science, "system of government where the power of the sovereign is unrestricted," in which sense it seems to have been introduced by British reformer and parliamentarian Maj. Gen. Thomas Perronet Thompson. See absolute and -ism.

activism (n.)
1920 in the political sense of "advocating energetic action;" see active + -ism. Earlier (1907) it was used in reference to a philosophical theory. Compare activist.
aestheticism (n.)
"devotion to what is sensuously beautiful," 1855, from aesthetic + -ism.
Africanism (n.)
1640s in reference to qualities of Latin peculiar to writers from Roman Africa (especially Church fathers), from African + -ism. By 1836 as "mode of speech peculiar to African-Americans." From 1957 in reference to the political development of African nations or peoples.
agathism (n.)
the doctrine that all things tend toward the good, 1830, from agathist + -ism.
ageism (n.)

"discrimination against people based on age," coined 1969 by U.S. gerontologist Dr. Robert N. Butler (1927-1910), from age (n.) + -ism, on pattern of racism, sexism. Related: Ageist.