Share this entry

sadism Line breaks: sad¦ism
Pronunciation: /ˈseɪdɪz(ə)m/

Definition of sadism in English:


[mass noun]
The tendency to derive pleasure, especially sexual gratification, from inflicting pain, suffering, or humiliation on others: beneath the apparent loving concern she had glimpsed spite and sadism
More example sentences
  • They include auto-mutilation of her genitals with a razor, voyeurism, taking sexual pleasure in urination, sadism, and masochism.
  • This showed that CPA was an effective agent in the treatment of very severe paraphilias, in this case sexual sadism and pedophilia that resulted in a sexually motivated homicide.
  • Yet this scenario of male sadism and necrophiliac fetishism, this duality of adoration and humiliation does not feel quite right.



Example sentences
  • Jeffrey Dahmer was not a sadist, necrophiliac and cannibal who preyed on 16 children and young males ‘in a vacuum’.
  • The most dangerous type of rapist is the sexual sadist.
  • There is a world of difference between animals tortured and killed for the pleasure of sadists, and animals stunned (which the law requires) and killed for food.


Late 19th century: from French sadisme, from the name of the Marquis de Sade, Comte de.

  • During several periods of imprisonment in the later 18th and early 19th centuries, French writer and soldier the Marquis de Sade ( 1740–1814) wrote pornographic books. One sexual perversion in particular fascinated him, arousal from inflicting pain on others. The French named it sadisme after him, and English adopted the word as sadism in the 1880s. See also masochism

Words that rhyme with sadism

nudism • Sufism • ageism

Definition of sadism in:

Share this entry


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove ads and access premium resources

Related Words