1794 "worst condition possible," borrowed (by Coleridge) from French pessimisme, formed (on model of French optimisme) from Latin pessimus "worst," perhaps originally "bottom-most," from PIE *ped-samo-, suffixed (superlative) form of *ped- "to walk, stumble, impair," from root *ped- "foot." Compare Latin pessum "downward, to the ground."
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.
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