Word of the Day: Syncretism


syn-cre-tism /  sĭng-krĭ-tĭz-əm, sĭn-krĭ-tĭz-əm


1. the attempted reconciliation or fusion of differing or opposing principles or beliefs in philosophy or religion

Instances of religious syncretism—as, for example, Gnosticism (a religious dualistic system that incorporated elements from the Oriental mystery religions), Judaism, Christianity, and Greek religious philosophical concepts—were particularly prevalent during the Hellenistic period (c. 300 bce–c. 300 ce).

Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “religious syncretism”. Encyclopedia Britannica, Invalid Date, https://www.britannica.com/topic/religious-syncretism. Accessed 4 April 2022.


2. in linguistics, the fusion of two or more inflectional categories

Syncretism often (though not always) arises due to phonological reasons, when sound changes cause two previously distinct forms to become identical.

Adriano Cunha Trigueiro, www.quora.com/What-is-syncretism-in-language?share=1, accessed April 4, 2022



Through either the French noun syncretisme (a merging together of different, beliefs, philosophies, or practices) or the Neo-Latin masculine noun syncretismus, syncretismi of the same meaning, which is a transliteration of the Greek masculine noun sygkretismos, sygkretismou (a federation of people on the island of Crete). The latter is a combination of the Greek prepositional prefix syn [syg before k] (with, together with), the Greek masculine noun Kres, Kretis (an inhabitant of Crete), and the Greek masculine- noun-making suffix -ismos, -ismou (signifying ,in this case, a state or condition [the Cretans’ unification]). It gave rise to the more general Greek verb sygkretizo, sygkretizein (to unite different groups against a common enemy).

Thank you to Allen Ward for providing this etymology.