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1. Action; process; practice: terrorism.
2. Characteristic behavior or quality: heroism.
a. State; condition; quality: pauperism.
b. State or condition resulting from an excess of something specified: strychninism.
4. Distinctive or characteristic trait: Latinism.
a. Doctrine; theory; system of principles: pacifism.
b. An attitude of prejudice against a given group: racism.
[Middle English -isme, from Old French, from Latin -ismus, from Greek -ismos, n. suff.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
suffix forming nouns
1. indicating an action, process, or result: criticism; terrorism.
2. indicating a state or condition: paganism.
3. indicating a doctrine, system, or body of principles and practices: Leninism; spiritualism.
4. indicating behaviour or a characteristic quality: heroism.
5. indicating a characteristic usage, esp of a language: colloquialism; Scotticism.
6. indicating prejudice on the basis specified: sexism; ageism.
[from Old French -isme, from Latin -ismus, from Greek -ismos]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014
a distinctive doctrine, theory, system, or practice: capitalism, socialism, and other isms.
a suffix appearing in loanwords from Greek, where it was used to form action nouns from verbs (baptism); on this model, used as a productive suffix in the formation of nouns denoting action or practice, state or condition, principles, doctrines, a usage or characteristic, devotion or adherence, etc.: Darwinism; despotism; plagiarism; realism; witticism. Compare -ist, -ize.
[< Greek -ismos, -isma]
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.