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the principles and practices of the .
(sometimes lowercase) extreme strictness in moral or religious matters, often to excess; rigid austerity.
Contemporary Examples

The Obamas have added to the angst with intimations of a new Puritanism in our dire future.
But Can We Still Have Fun? Kathleen Parker January 18, 2009

Positive thinking is Puritanism with a capitalist face, she believes.
Why Are You So Damn Happy? Megan Hustad October 14, 2009

Historical Examples

Puritanism was only despicable, laughable then; but nobody can manage to laugh at it now.
Sartor Resartus, and On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History Thomas Carlyle

However, the Puritanism of his ancestors stood him in good stead.
The Dominant Strain Anna Chapin Ray

As to the mere facts, it must be said again that in so far as Puritanism was pure, it was unfortunately passing.
A Short History of England G. K. Chesterton

Certainly Euphues does not prove that Puritanism was latent in him.
John Lyly John Dover Wilson

Holding moderate religious views, he deprecated alike the extremes represented by Puritanism and Roman Catholicism.
Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 12, Slice 6 Various

It involved the surrender of a long-settled principle of Puritanism.
A History of American Christianity Leonard Woolsey Bacon

It seemed a reconcilement of opposing stations, a defeat of Puritanism.
One of Our Conquerors, Complete George Meredith

Puritanism may be said to have proved, in England, a signal failure.
A Modern History, From the Time of Luther to the Fall of Napoleon John Lord, A.M.


1570s, from Puritan + -ism. Originally in reference to specific doctrines; from 1590s of excessive moral strictness generally. In this sense, famously defined by H.L. Mencken (1920) as “the haunting fear that someone, somewhere may be happy.”


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