Definition of pessimism in English:



  • 1A tendency to see the worst aspect of things or believe that the worst will happen; a lack of hope or confidence in the future.

    ‘the dispute cast an air of deep pessimism over the future of the peace talks’
    • ‘But just because the mood of social pessimism is so ubiquitous does not mean we should simply accept it.’
    • ‘Despite my pessimism I still believe that the situation can be resolved.’
    • ‘At the same time, public pessimism about the future of health systems is growing.’
    • ‘Throughout the conversation, Blondel expressed a deep pessimism about the future.’
    • ‘The same markets that were enormously hyped a year ago are now the subject of deep pessimism.’
    • ‘We have found that a deliberative mindset induced greater realism and not more pessimism.’
    • ‘Its uncertain start has only confirmed Scottish pessimism about the possibility of change.’
    • ‘Invariably over the next couple of weeks there will be bouts of optimism and pessimism in world financial markets.’
    • ‘The birth rate is the lowest in Europe, reflecting deep pessimism about the future and the astonishingly high cost of housing.’
    • ‘I believed that no situation could be made better by pessimism or worry.’
    • ‘The deep pessimism which infects the classic Cold War novel gives way to a complacence born of the hero's capacity to survive.’
    • ‘To suggest we are on the edge of defeat is to yield to unreasonable pessimism.’
    • ‘Optimism turns to pessimism and a growing sense of helplessness, however, as funds are depleted and rejection letters arrive.’
    • ‘To recognize that war is inevitable is not pessimism, but political realism.’
    • ‘Why is it that every new cinematic vision of the future is bathed in pessimism and bleakness?’
    • ‘Yet there is reason to believe that the pessimism about the East German economy is overdone.’
    • ‘Official optimism was replaced by a searching and comparatively realistic pessimism.’
    • ‘In this peculiarly modern mood of social pessimism, the end is believed to be nigh but never comes.’
    • ‘That guarded optimism has been replaced by downright pessimism because the bottom of the decline is still not in sight.’
    • ‘There's no cause for pessimism, we should believe in ourselves and use that self-belief to choose now and irrevocably the path of reform.’
    defeatism, negative thinking, negativity, expecting the worst, doom and gloom, gloom, gloominess
    hopelessness, lack of hope, cynicism, fatalism, depression, despair, melancholy, despondency, dejection, angst, distrust, doubt
    looking on the black side
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Philosophy A belief that this world is as bad as it could be or that evil will ultimately prevail over good.
      • ‘If pessimism has a spiritual godfather it is perhaps the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer.’
      • ‘Nietzsche saw himself breaking away from Schopenhauer's pessimism by rejecting what he saw as his monism.’
      • ‘Kant's pessimism was based on his conception of the nature of living organisms.’
      • ‘Schopenhauer was the high priest of philosophical pessimism.’
      • ‘Hobbes and Cavendish shared pessimism about human nature, and an anxiety about ethical and linguistic relativism.’


Late 18th century: from Latin pessimus worst on the pattern of optimism.