Definition of masochism in English:



  • 1[mass noun] The tendency to derive sexual gratification from one's own pain or humiliation.

    ‘with things such as bondage and masochism, it's all right if you both go for it’
    • ‘In order to trace these various relationships, I must begin by proposing a way of understanding masochism that deviates from the conventional view that its origins lie in sexuality.’
    • ‘There are different theories related to sexual masochism, many stemming from the psychoanalytic camp.’
    • ‘Algolagnia is a psychiatric term covering sadism and masochism.’
    • ‘It organizes its mise en scène to compose a metaphor for this primal space in which sadism and masochism intersect and in which, by virtue of the social order, some private sexual fantasies are turned into a system.’
    • ‘So we are suffering both humiliation and masochism.’
    • ‘Sadism and masochism, like fetishism, annex pleasure to established systems of desire.’
    • ‘These processes are contrasted with masochism as explanations of self-directed wit.’
    • ‘Essentially, Robert and I are both dominants, but we're dominants who like to play with sadism / masochism in the context of our sexual relationship.’
    • ‘Unlike sadism, which depends upon action and immediate gratification, masochism savors suspense and distance.’
    • ‘Sadism and masochism might be taken as extreme manifestations of the roles of the sexes as encoded by society and (in the view of many) by biology.’
    • ‘Though the pursuit of sexual ecstasy through pain is seen as masochism, as a perversion, Bataille argues that this is one example of liberation through surrender.’
    • ‘But going back to topic… Can there be a sexual relations with sadism / masochism or domination/ submission without having psychological abuse?’
    • ‘Yet her sexual masochism is oddly mixed with non-erotic desires for an omnipotent caretaker, infantile wishes that parallel his yearning for divine love.’
    • ‘Or, to put it another way, it denies the possibility that masochism can exist outside of sexual fantasy, or that the real world can contain opportunities for erotic pleasure.’
    • ‘At the same time, Freudian psychoanalysis offers an understanding of the formations of sadism and masochism as complementary and vacillating.’
    • ‘Still, it's not easy to speak of masochism for long without invoking sadism, and vice versa.’
    • ‘Disease or degeneration could suppress, heighten, or pervert the sexual instinct, giving rise to frigidity, nymphomania, or perversions such as sadism, masochism, fetishism, or homosexuality.’
    • ‘Yet she may have sadism / masochism fantasies, perhaps secret, perhaps acted out.’
    • ‘His eyes widened as he read about sadism and masochism, bondage and domination.’
    • ‘The effect of the emotional power of a film such as this one is that it dominates the thinking of the viewer, such that he is unable to entertain points of view other than the two choices of sadism and masochism.’
    avarice, acquisitiveness, parsimony, parsimoniousness, penny-pinching, cheese-paring, thrift
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1(in general use) the enjoyment of an activity that appears to be painful or tedious.
      ‘there's plenty to do when the weather turns moorland walks into exercises in masochism’
      • ‘That ballet continues to enlist and attract thousands of young girls cannot be entirely due to false consciousness or masochism.’
      • ‘I always knew you had to be a bit of a sadist to cook - after all, you have to beat the eggs and whip the cream - but now cooking is an exercise in masochism as well.’
      • ‘Supporting the modern multiplex is an exercise in commercial masochism.’
      • ‘There is a certain masochism involved in reading his novel.’
      • ‘They regard my delight in climbing hills as a form of masochism - or sadism if accompanying me.’
      • ‘There is nothing quite like following Oasis as an exercise in masochism.’
      • ‘Call it instinct, masochism, whatever - but most women want children, continue to accept the role of primary carer, and reap psychological and emotional sustenance from motherhood.’
      • ‘Will can never be satisfied; pain is basic to it; life is masochism.’


Late 19th century: named after Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (1835–95), the Austrian novelist who described it, + -ism.