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The Economist Book of isms: From Absolutism to Zoroastrianism

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What is an "ism?" The etymologists, harking back – via medieval French and Latin – to Greek words that end in "ismos," will say those three letters are a convenient suffix: add them to a noun or adjective, or to the stem of a verb, and, to the delight of the philologists, you add meaning, distinction and nuance. Terror becomes terrorism; global becomes globalism; baptise becomes baptism. For Messrs Reagan, Thatcher and Marx, their "isms" define their political and economic ideologies, but inventive types will add...

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Overview

What is an "ism?" The etymologists, harking back – via medieval French and Latin – to Greek words that end in "ismos," will say those three letters are a convenient suffix: add them to a noun or adjective, or to the stem of a verb, and, to the delight of the philologists, you add meaning, distinction and nuance. Terror becomes terrorism; global becomes globalism; baptise becomes baptism. For Messrs Reagan, Thatcher and Marx, their "isms" define their political and economic ideologies, but inventive types will add "ism" to all manner of words – a "Bushism," for example, for any of the many malapropisms uttered by America's 43rd president.

For those who want to be on top of their "isms," here is an illuminating and witty guide to more than 400.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781846682988
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 7/26/2010
  • Series: Economist Series , #76
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 4.80 (w) x 7.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

John Andrews has written for The Economist for almost 30 years. His career as a journalist began in the Middle East, and his foreign postings with The Economist ranged from Singapore and Hong Kong, to Washington, Los Angeles, Brussels and Paris. He now divides his time between London and Provence.

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Read an Excerpt

Absurdism: A philosophy, closely linked to existentialism and nihilism, that holds that mankind exists in a meaningless, irrational world, making absurd any search for order and meaning. Absurdism was intrinsic to the ideas of the 19th century Danish philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard, but was popularized by France’s Albert Camus in his essay “The Myth of Sisyphus.” Much of modern theatre is influenced by absurdism: the idea that life is ultimately without purpose has attracted playwrights from Ionesco to Pinter.

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Table of Contents

Preface.

Abolitionism to autism.

Ba'athism to Butskellism.

Calvinism to cynicism.

Dadaism to dystopiansim.

Ecleticism to extremism.

Fabianism to futurism.

Gallicansim to gradualism.

Hasidism to hypopituitarism.

Idealism to isomorphism.

Jacksonianism to Judaism.

Kabbalism to know-nothingism.

Lacanianism to Lysenkoism.

Machiavellianism to mysticism.

Narcissism to nudism.

Objectivism to ostracism.

Pacifism to Puritanism.

Quakerism to quixotism.

Racialism to Rosicrucianism.

Sabbatarianism to syndicalism.

Tantrism to Trotskyism.

Ultramontanism to utopianism.

Valetudinariansim to vulgarism.

Wahhabism to witticism.

Zeism to Zoroastrianism.

List of isms.

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