ni·hil·ism (nīə-lĭz′əm, nē-)
1. Philosophy The doctrine that nothing actually exists or that existence or values are meaningless.
2. Relentless negativity or cynicism suggesting an absence of values or beliefs: nihilism in postwar art.
a. Political belief or action that advocates or commits violence or terrorism without discernible constructive goals.
b. also Nihilism A diffuse, revolutionary movement of mid-19th-century Russia that scorned authority and tradition and believed in reason, materialism, and radical change in society and government through terrorism and assassination.
4. Psychiatry A delusion, experienced in some mental disorders, that the world or one's mind, body, or self does not exist.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.
American Heritage Dictionary Products
The American Heritage Dictionary, 5th Edition
The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms
The American Heritage Roget's Thesaurus
Curious George's Dictionary
The American Heritage Children's Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots
The American Heritage Student Grammar Dictionary
The American Heritage Desk Dictionary + Thesaurus
The American Heritage Science Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Business Terms
The American Heritage Student Dictionary
The American Heritage Essential Student Thesaurus