Definitions

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

  • n. A tendency to stress the negative or unfavorable or to take the gloomiest possible view: "We have seen too much defeatism, too much pessimism, too much of a negative approach” ( Margo Jones).
  • n. The doctrine or belief that this is the worst of all possible worlds and that all things ultimately tend toward evil.
  • n. The doctrine or belief that the evil in the world outweighs the good.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A general belief that bad things will happen.
  • n. The doctrine that this world is the worst of all possible worlds.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The opinion or doctrine that everything in nature is ordered for or tends to the worst, or that the world is wholly evil; -- opposed to optimism.
  • n. A disposition to take the least hopeful view of things.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In metaphysics:
  • n. The doctrine that this world is the worst possible.
  • n. The doctrine that the development of the universe has such a law that it must ultimately reach, or at least tend toward, the same nonexistence from which it sprang.
  • n. The tendency to exaggerate in thought the evils of life, or to look only upon its dark side; a melancholy or depressing spirit or view of life.
  • n. The worst possible condition; the point of greatest deterioration.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the feeling that things will turn out badly
  • n. a general disposition to look on the dark side and to expect the worst in all things

Etymologies

French pessimisme (on the model of optimisme, optimism), from Latin pessimus, worst; see ped- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin pessimus ("worst"), superlative of malus ("bad"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

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