- The definition of barbarism refers to the condition of being brutal, primitive, or socially backwards.
Torturing prisoners is an example of barbarism.
barbarism definition by Webster's New World
- the use of words and expressions not standard in a language
- a word or expression of this sort (Ex.: “youse” for “you”)
- the state of being primitive or lacking civilization
- a barbarous action, custom, etc.
- brutal behavior; barbarity
Origin: Classical Latin barbarismus ; from Classical Greek barbarismos: see barbarous
barbarism definition by American Heritage Dictionary
- An act, trait, or custom characterized by ignorance or crudity.
- a. The use of words, forms, or expressions considered incorrect or unacceptable.b. A specific word, form, or expression so used.
Origin: Latin barbarismus, use of a foreign tongue or of one's own tongue amiss, barbarism, from Greek barbarismos, from barbarizein, to behave or speak like a barbarian, from barbaros, non-Greek, foreign (imitative of the sound of unintelligible speech).Usage Note: There is a significant difference in meaning between barbarism and barbarity. Both denote some absence of civilization, but the word civilization itself has several different senses, one the opposite of barbarism, the other the opposite of barbarity. On the one hand civilization may refer to the scientific, artistic, and cultural attainments of advanced societies, and it is this sense that figures in the meaning of barbarism. The English word barbarism originally referred to incorrect use of language, but it is now used more generally to refer to ignorance or crudity in matters of taste, including verbal expression: The New Yorker would never tolerate such barbarisms. On the other hand, civilization may refer to the basic social order that allows people to resolve their differences peaceably, and it is this sense—that is, civilization as opposed to savagery—that figures in the meaning of barbarity, which refers to savage brutality or cruelty in actions, as in The accounts of the emperor's barbarity shocked the world.