Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.


the combination of elements from different religions or different cultural traditions. Syncretism in religious belief and practices has been especially associated with contexts, e.g. colonialism, in which a major religion is brought into contact with local religions, but it can also be seen as a general feature of the transformation of religions or cultures and of DIASPORAS. See also CULT, CARGO CULT, POSTCOLONIAL THEORY.



(1) The absence of differentiation that characterizes an undeveloped state of certain phenomena. Examples are art during the initial stages of human culture, when music, singing, poetry, and the dance were not distinguished from one another, and a child’s mental functions during the early stages of its development.

(2) The blending or inorganic merging of heterogeneous elements. An example is the merging of different cults and religious systems in late antiquity— the religous syncretism of the Hellenistic period.

(3) In philosophy, syncretism denotes a variant of eclecticism.



in linguistics, the merging of once formally distinct grammatical categories or meanings into one form, which, as a result, becomes polysemous or polyfunctional. In Latin, for example, syncretism in the case system led to a combining of the functions of the instrumental and locative cases in the ablative case. Syncretism can occur not only in the morphology but also in the syntax of a language. The concept of syncretism is paradigmatic, differing from the syntagmatic neutralization of oppositions. Syncretism is an irreversible systemic shift in the process of the development of a language; neutralization is a living process associated with the use of linguistic units in speech.

References in periodicals archive ?
A closer analysis reveals the constraints in the syncretism patterns and the importance of morphonology and the stem vowel.
The typological study in Rice and Kabata (2007) takes a different perspective on the syncretism patterns, but still allows one to state some generalizations.
In other words, storytelling itself is a key mechanism through which human beings construct the realities in which they live, and syncretism, when understood as an underlying human cognitive process of reality-construction, challenges the too-easy separation of the "real" from the "unreal" in human meaning-making systems.
<<Joana's Story : Syncretism at the Actor's Level>>, in S.M.
The patterns of interaction between these three traditions set in motion during the "period of disunity" and the political precedents established by the succeeding dynasties ensured that Chinese religion would continue to be defined by syncretism, state control, and struggles for supremacy.
It would be too naive to say that there are no examples of genuine fusion or syncretism to be found, but it remains an intriguing fact that most of the examples cited--at least, in sculpture or relief work--tend toward one extreme or the other.
Indeed, religious syncretism has been all the rage, and the Lord has not been pleased.
They feared that their Indian converts would practice syncretism. The plight of many American Indians who accepted Christ was that there was no "halfway point," so if they converted, they had to wear white man's clothing, observe the Sabbath, send their children to school, and build a house.
Second to the theory of useless service is that of syncretism and alternation, which affirms that one must taste of every human experience in order to find happiness.
A product of the syncretism between modernity and Mexican idiosyncrasy, the work of Luis Barragan continues to represent an architectural manifesto for universal culture.
While earlier investigators have tended to demonize either the Amerindians or the Spaniards, Venistique attempts to put prejudices aside and to explore the native and peninsular world views in place during colonization, thereby elucidating the cultural syncretism particular to Michoacan.
McLoughlin makes a convincing case for syncretism, the emergence of a Christianity that blended both Native and white beliefs.