nihilism: Meaning and Definition of


Pronunciation: (nī'u-liz"um, nē'-), [key]
— n.
  1. total rejection of established laws and institutions.
  2. anarchy, terrorism, or other revolutionary activity.
  3. total and absolute destructiveness, esp. toward the world at large and including oneself: the power-mad nihilism that marked Hitler's last years.
    1. an extreme form of skepticism: the denial of all real existence or the possibility of an objective basis for truth.
    2. nothingness or nonexistence.
  4. (sometimes cap.) the principles of a Russian revolutionary group, active in the latter half of the 19th century, holding that existing social and political institutions must be destroyed in order to clear the way for a new state of society and employing extreme measures, including terrorism and assassination.
  5. annihilation of the self, or the individual consciousness, esp. as an aspect of mystical experience.
Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.
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