Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • suffix Action; process; practice: terrorism.
  • suffix Characteristic behavior or quality: heroism.
  • suffix State; condition; quality: pauperism.
  • suffix State or condition resulting from an excess of something specified: strychninism.
  • suffix Distinctive or characteristic trait: Latinism.
  • suffix Doctrine; theory; system of principles: pacifism.
  • suffix An attitude of prejudice against a given group: racism.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • suffix forming nouns on action or process or result based on the accompanying verb in -ize
  • suffix forming the name of a system, school of thought or theory based on the name of its subject or object or alternatively on the name of its founder ((when de-capitalized, these overlap with the generic "doctrines" sense below, e.g. Liberalism vs. liberalism):).
  • suffix a tendency of behaviour, action or opinion belonging to a class or group of persons; the result of a doctrine, ideology, principle, or lack thereof
  • suffix a peculiarity or characteristic of language
  • suffix an ideology expressing belief in the superiority of a certain class within the concept expressed by the root word ((based on a late 20th-century narrowing of the "terms for a doctrine" sense):)
  • suffix A condition or syndrome caused by or associated with a specific type of organism

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • A suffix indicating an act, a process, the result of an act or a process, a state; also, a characteristic (as a theory, doctrine, idiom, etc.).

Etymologies

Middle English -isme, from Old French, from Latin -ismus, from Greek -ismos, n. suff.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Ultimately from either Ancient Greek -ισμός (-ismos), a suffix that forms abstract nouns of action, state, condition, doctrine; from stem of verbs in -ιζειν (-izein) (whence English -ize), or from the related suffix Ancient Greek -ισμα (-isma), which more specifically expressed a finished act or thing done. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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