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

  • n. An act, trait, or custom characterized by ignorance or crudity.
  • n. The use of words, forms, or expressions considered incorrect or unacceptable.
  • n. A specific word, form, or expression so used.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A barbaric act.
  • n. The condition of existing barbarically.
  • n. An error in language use within a single word, such as a mispronunciation.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An uncivilized state or condition; rudeness of manners; ignorance of arts, learning, and literature; barbarousness.
  • n. A barbarous, cruel, or brutal action; an outrage.
  • n. An offense against purity of style or language; any form of speech contrary to the pure idioms of a particular language. See Solecism.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. An offense against purity of style or language; originally, the mixing of foreign words and phrases in Latin or Greek; hence, the use of words or forms not made according to the accepted usages of a language: limited by some modern writers on rhetoric to an offense against the accepted rules of derivation or inflection, as hisn or hern for his or her, gooses for geese, goodest for best, pled for pleaded, proven for proved.
  • n. A word or form so used; an expression not made in accordance with the proper usages of a language.
  • n. An uncivilized state or condition; want of civilization; rudeness of life resulting from ignorance or want of culture.
  • n. An act of barbarity; an outrage.
  • n. Synonyms Barbarism, Solecism, etc. See impropriety.
  • n. In anthropology, the conditions of barbarian society. See barbarian, a., 5.

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

  • n. a brutal barbarous savage act


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

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).



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  • For the Roman soldier Hadrian's Wall was more than just a defence against the Caledonian tribes - it also represented the dividing line between the known world of order and civilisation, and the unknown world of chaos and barbarism.

    I didnt know what barbarism meant. It sounded like something to do with haircuts but that didnt sound right. The picture in the book showed the tribes with long messy hair and the Romans with short hair or helmets so maybe barbarism was to do with haircuts.

    From 'The Dead Fathers Club' by Matt Haig.

    October 24, 2009

  • "But how can that be? They come to delight their eyes with something beautiful," said Yashima, "and they leave it desecrated? That is barbarism." -- ''Yashima, or, The Gorgeous West'' by R T Sherwood, 1931.

    December 24, 2008

  • To complement WeirdNet's fine collection of adjectives...

    Eric Hobsbawm: 'I have called my lecture ‘Barbarism, A User’s Guide’, not because I wish to give you instructions in how to be barbarians. None of us, unfortunately, need it. Barbarism is not something like ice-dancing, a technique that has to be learned—at least not unless you wish to become a torturer or some other specialist in inhuman activities... The argument of this lecture is that, after about a hundred and fifty years of secular decline, barbarism has been on the increase for most of the twentieth century, and there is no sign that this increase is at an end. In this context I understand ‘barbarism’ to mean two things. First, the disruption and breakdown of the systems of rules and moral behaviour by which all societies regulate the relations among their members and, to a lesser extent, between their members and those of other societies. Second, I mean, more specifically, the reversal of what we may call the project of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, namely the establishment of a universal system of such rules and standards of moral behaviour, embodied in the institutions of states dedicated to the rational progress of humanity: to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, to Equality, Liberty and Fraternity or whatever.'

    December 5, 2008