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Barbarism vs. Barbarianism — What's the Difference?

Edited by Tayyaba Rehman — By Maham Liaqat — Updated on April 15, 2024
Barbarism refers to uncultured or primitive behavior, while barbarianism specifically describes actions or ideologies characteristic of barbarians.
Barbarism vs. Barbarianism — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Barbarism and Barbarianism


Key Differences

Barbarism encompasses a wide range of uncultured or crude behaviors and practices often considered backward by more developed societies. On the other hand, barbarianism is more specifically tied to the conduct and attitudes associated with barbarians, implying a degree of savagery or hostility.
Barbarism can be seen in language, where it denotes the use of incorrect words or non-standard language, while barbarianism focuses more on the destructive or aggressive behaviors that defy civilized norms.
In literature, barbarism describes stylistic or grammatical errors, whereas barbarianism might be used to characterize the thematic presence of brutal, fierce characters or societies.
Historically, barbarism has been used to describe periods or scenarios lacking in cultural refinement, while barbarianism often portrays the actions or ethos of groups seen as outsiders or threats by established civilizations.
Culturally, barbarism might be invoked to critique poor taste or manners, contrasting with barbarianism, which often underscores a fundamental opposition to established social or moral orders.

Comparison Chart


Lack of cultural refinement
The qualities of a barbarian

Usage in Language

Incorrect or non-standard language
Actions resembling a barbarian

Literary Usage

Stylistic or grammatical errors
Thematic element of brutality

Historical Context

Periods lacking cultural refinement
Actions of groups seen as threats

Cultural Implication

Poor taste or manners
Opposition to social/moral orders

Compare with Definitions


Primitive condition or practices.
The ritual was deemed a relic of barbarism.


Hostile attitude towards civilization.
His speech was filled with barbarianism, condemning modern society.


Social rudeness or crudeness.
Interrupting others frequently can be seen as social barbarism.


Ruthlessness or brutality.
The destruction left behind was a clear sign of barbarianism.


Uncultured behavior.
Spitting in public is considered barbarism in many cultures.


Savagery in actions.
The invaders' barbarianism was evident in their disregard for life.


Incorrect usage in language.
Using 'irregardless' is often criticized as a barbarism.


Primitive fierceness in behavior.
The leader's call to arms was driven by raw barbarianism.


Lack of refinement in art.
The crude painting was dismissed as barbarism.


Behaving like a barbarian.
Their ruthless conquests were marked by barbarianism.


The condition of having no civilizing influences or refined culture; ignorance or crudity
"the struggles made by different nations, as they emerge from barbarism, to supply themselves with some visible symbol of thought" (William Hickling Prescott).


A member of one of the non-Greek peoples in the ancient world, regarded by the ancient Greeks as culturally inferior.


Savage violence or cruelty
"To say that the barbarism of one side [in World War I] impelled the barbarism of the other is not much of an excuse" (David A. Bell).


A member of any of various peoples living outside the Roman Empire or not fully integrated into Greco-Roman civilization.


The use of words, forms, or expressions considered incorrect or unacceptable.


A member of a people considered uncivilized or culturally inferior by members of another people.


A specific word, form, or expression so used.


A crude, uncivilized, or brutal person.


A barbaric act.
These barbarisms can not be allowed to continue; they must be crushed or civilization will collapse.


A primitive or simplistic ethos or societal condition; barbarism.
Some postulate that after a nuclear war, humanity would fall into a state of barbarianism.


The condition of existing barbarically.


Behaviour appropriate to a barbarian, that is uncivilized, brutal, or crude.
The teacher accused the bullies of barbarianism when she caught them taunting the girl in a wheelchair.


A word hybridizing Ancient Greek and Latin or other heterogeneous roots.


An error in language use within a single word, such as a mispronunciation.


An uncivilized state or condition; rudeness of manners; ignorance of arts, learning, and literature; barbarousness.


A barbarous, cruel, or brutal action; an outrage.
A heinous barbarism . . . against the honor of marriage.


An offense against purity of style or language; any form of speech contrary to the pure idioms of a particular language. See Solecism.
The Greeks were the first that branded a foreign term in any of their writers with the odious name of barbarism.


A brutal barbarous savage act

Common Curiosities

Can barbarianism be positive?

While typically negative, in some contexts, barbarianism can be seen as a rejection of corrupt or decadent moral values.

What is barbarism?

Barbarism refers to the absence or lack of cultural sophistication or the use of incorrect language.

Are barbarism and barbarianism interchangeable in literature?

No, barbarism is used to indicate linguistic or stylistic faults, while barbarianism refers to thematic elements of brutality.

Can a society revert to barbarianism?

Yes, particularly in scenarios where societal structures break down and primal instincts prevail.

What defines barbarianism?

Barbarianism describes behaviors or beliefs characteristic of barbarians, often emphasizing savagery.

How is barbarism viewed in modern societies?

It is often criticized and viewed negatively as it suggests a lack of refinement.

How does barbarism manifest in language?

Barbarism in language involves using words incorrectly or employing non-standard grammar.

How do barbarism and barbarianism relate to civilization?

Both terms typically contrast with what is considered civilized, but barbarianism more directly opposes established civil norms.

Does barbarianism imply a lack of intelligence?

Not necessarily, it more so implies a rejection of conventional moralities or behaviors.

What is the difference between barbarism and barbarianism in historical context?

Barbarism refers generally to cultural backwardness, whereas barbarianism specifically describes the aggressive actions of barbarians.

Is barbarism always intentional?

No, barbarism can occur unintentionally, especially in language use or social etiquette.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Maham Liaqat
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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