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

  • n. A habitual attitude of skepticism or resistance to the suggestions, orders, or instructions of others.
  • n. Behavior characterized by persistent refusal, without apparent or logical reasons, to act on or carry out suggestions, orders, or instructions of others.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A persistent pessimistic or skeptical attitude.
  • n. A stubborn tendency to do the opposite of what one is asked.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The stand-point assumed, or the views held, by a negationist.

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

  • n. characterized by habitual skepticism and a disagreeable tendency to deny or oppose or resist suggestions or commands


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • "Nattering nabobs of negativism" is one of the most popular turns of phrase associated with U.S. Vice President Spiro T. Agnew, who served under Richard Nixon until resigning in October 1974, after pleading no contest to charges of tax fraud.

    Sound Politics: Don't be So Modest, Mr. Westneat

  • The negativism is really, to use a word I've already used, frightening.

    Making Canada Work

  • A noticeable trait of the parties and the leaders who are the backbones of these two Fronts is their 'negativism'-opposing whatever is in front of them rather than offer an alternative.

    Asian Tribune

  • Indeed, one of the purposes of the Democrats’ relentless negativism is to demoralize GOP supporters, to induce them to grumble, “A Republican majority hasn’t repealed the death tax and reformed Social Security and opened more land to oil exploration and miraculously fixed 50 years of immigration policy problems, so what good is it?”

    Stromata Blog:

  • In this sense the degradation of humanity is a recurrent theme in Beckett's writing and to this extent, his philosophy, simply accentuated by elements of the grotesque and of tragic farce, can be described as a negativism that cannot desist from descending to the depths.

    Nobel Prize in Literature 1969 - Presentation Speech

  • In this helpless condition the other factors which tend to develop what we have called negativism have full play.

    The Nervous Child

  • A lot of City's "negativism" was simply that Arsenal played very well and prevented City from playing their game.

    Roberto Mancini's scrap merchants show mettle to back up title hopes | Paul Hayward

  • For example, media that are alleged to be ideologically aligned with the ruling party describe the opposition demand in terms of 'negativism', 'hypocrisy', 'destruction of traditions', 'an attack on democracy' and 'politically motivated' while the Congress stance of a PAC alternative is described in terms of an 'offer' that is 'spurned' or 'rejected'.

    Marie-Lou Fernandes: Radia Tapes and the Indian Media: It's Time for Sensation Now

  • In my cynicism and pessimism (and 'negativism') I have often wondered what would be better.

    Worse Than the Great Depression?

  • Here also, just as in the refusal of food, a further stage of "negativism," that is, of active resistance with crying and struggling, is reached, so that complaint may be made by the mother that defæcation is painful.

    The Nervous Child


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