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ni·hil·ism (nīə-lĭzəm, nē-)
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n.
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.
3.
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.

[Latin nihil, nothing; see ne in the Appendix of Indo-European roots + -ISM.]

nihil·ist n.
nihil·istic adj.
nihil·isti·cal·ly adv.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

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