• WordNet 3.6
    • n asceticism rigorous self-denial and active self-restraint
    • n asceticism the trait of great self-denial (especially refraining from worldly pleasures)
    • n asceticism the doctrine that through renunciation of worldly pleasures it is possible to achieve a high spiritual or intellectual state
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • n Asceticism The condition, practice, or mode of life, of ascetics.
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Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n asceticism The life or practice of an ascetic; the principles and historic course of the ascetics. In ancient Greece asceticism (ἄσκησ, σ1ις) meant the discipline undergone by athletes while training. In the schools of the Stoics the same word was applied to the controlling of the appetites and passions and the practice of virtue. Among Christians, through contact with the Alexandrian school of philosophy, the word early came into use with a similar meaning, namely, the habitual use of self-discipline, such as had been practised by individuals and even by communities among the Jews. The object of this discipline was to control and subdue the bodily nature with its passions and desires as the stronghold of evil inherent in man since the fall of Adam, the means used being fasting, celibacy, poverty, penance, and solitude, a mode of life which developed in the course of a few centuries into monasticism. Similar and even greater austerities have been practised from very early times by many among various pagan nations and in connection with various religious systems, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, etc., under the influence of the idea that matter is essentially evil, and that an approach to ideal good or an escape from the evils of existence can be effected only by subduing or torturing the body.
    • n asceticism In theology, the theory or systematic exposition of the means, whether negative, as self-denial and abstinence, or positive, as the exercise of natural and Christian virtues, by which a complete conformity with the divine will may be attained. See ascetical theology, under ascetical. Synonyms Self-sacrifice, Austerity, etc. See self-denial.
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In literature:

Devotion, austerity, and asceticism in the cause of religion have been characteristic of India as far back as history records.
"Among the Wild Tribes of the Afghan Frontier" by T. L. Pennell
There was no mortification, no asceticism, which I did not practise to excess.
"The Scarlet Banner" by Felix Dahn
It was these that asceticism evoked.
"Historia Amoris: A History of Love, Ancient and Modern" by Edgar Saltus
She had no acquaintance with that asceticism produced by devotion to the intellect.
"Carnival" by Compton Mackenzie
Hence the life of reason turns with him to mysticism in theory and to asceticism in practice.
"Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 5, Slice 4" by Various
He now initiated an asceticism as severe in its discipline as that of St. Francis of Assisi on the Umbrian hills.
"Lafcadio Hearn" by Nina H. Kennard
Hence the intense earnestness and almost miraculous heights of fanatical asceticism, to which the Stoics attained.
"A Critical History of Greek Philosophy" by W. T. Stace
It was the glory of St. Benedict's reform, to have substituted bodily labour for the supine indolence of oriental asceticism.
"View of the State of Europe during the Middle Ages, Vol. 3 (of 3)" by Henry Hallam
But the Bogomils did not go as far as to recommend asceticism.
"Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 4, Slice 1" by Various
Another thing to be carefully remembered is, that asceticism and licentiousness universally coexist.
"How to Observe" by Harriet Martineau
These men were in deadly earnest and their asceticism attested their single-hearted fidelity to their cause.
"Labor and Freedom" by Eugene V. Debs
The natural concomitant in conduct of such a belief is an uncompromising asceticism.
"Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 2, Slice 2" by Various
Monasticism was but one phase of asceticism.
"The New Gresham Encyclopedia. Vol. 1 Part 2" by Various
He is said to have gained the admiration of his fellows by the extreme rigour of his asceticism.
"Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 2, Slice 6" by Various
Asceticism then in its origin was usually not ascetic in a modern sense, that is, not ethical.
"Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 2, Slice 7" by Various
Ideal love, asceticism, religion, the virtues of the Christian and the knight, are not for him.
"Renaissance in Italy: Italian Literature" by John Addington Symonds
The long practice of asceticism, had removed his spirit from the present.
"Ekkehard. Vol. I (of II)" by Joseph Victor Scheffel
Mingled with this grateful asceticism was the quaint contrast of a peculiar Spanish luxuriousness.
"Gabriel Conroy" by Bert Harte
The negation of chivalry, mysticism, asceticism, is accomplished.
"Renaissance in Italy: Italian Literature" by John Addington Symonds
There had been a tendency toward asceticism from the very beginning of Christianity.
"The Influence of the Bible on Civilisation" by Ernst Von Dobschutz

In news:

Montanism A heretical Christian movement, both millenarian and ascetic, founded by Montanus, a self-styled prophet, in Phrygia, Turkey, in the middle of the 2nd century (see millenarianism and asceticism).
There is a human need for discipline, which is another word for asceticism.
Running Religion – Asceticism for the 21st Century.