AskDefine | Define fanatic

Dictionary Definition

fanatic adj : marked by excessive enthusiasm for and intense devotion to a cause or idea; "rabid isolationist" [syn: fanatical, overzealous, rabid] n : a person motivated by irrational enthusiasm (as for a cause); "A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject"--Winston Churchill [syn: fiend]

User Contributed Dictionary



First attested in 1525. From etyl la fanaticus from fanum. Influenced by fanatique.


  • /fəˈnæt.ɪk/, /f@"n

Extensive Definition

Fanaticism is an emotion of being filled with excessive, uncritical zeal, particularly for an extreme religious or political cause, or with an obsessive enthusiasm for a pastime or hobby.
According to philosopher George Santayana, "Fanaticism consists in redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim"; according to Winston Churchill, "A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject". By either description the fanatic displays very strict standards and little tolerance.
The difference between a fan and a fanatic is that while both have an overwhelming liking or interest in a given subject, behaviour of a fanatic will be viewed as violating prevailing social norms, while that of a fan will not violate those norms (although is usually considered unusual).
A fanatic differs from a crank in that the latter term is typically associated with a position or opinion which is so far from the norm as to appear ludicrous and/or provably wrong, while the subject of the fanatic's obsession may well be "normal", with only the scale of involvement being abnormally disproportionate.

Categories of fanaticism

  • consumer fanaticism - the level of involvement or interest one has in the liking of a particular person, group, trend, artwork or idea.
  • religious fanaticism - considered by some to be the most extreme form of religious fundamentalism.
  • political, ideological fanaticism.
  • ethnic, national, racial fanaticism.
  • leisure fanaticism - high levels of intensity, enthusiasm, commitment and zeal shown for one's leisure activities.
  • Haynal, A., Molnar, M. and de Puymege, G. 1987."Fanaticism. A Historical and Psychoanalytical Study".Schoken Books. New York.
  • Rudin, J. 1969.Fanaticism. A psychological Analysis. University of Notre Dame Press. London.
fanatic in Bulgarian: Фанатизъм
fanatic in Danish: Fanatisme
fanatic in German: Fanatismus
fanatic in Estonian: Fanatism
fanatic in Modern Greek (1453-): Φανατισμός
fanatic in Spanish: Fanatismo
fanatic in French: Fanatisme
fanatic in Italian: Fanatismo
fanatic in Lithuanian: Fanatizmas
fanatic in Dutch: Fanatisme
fanatic in Norwegian: Fanatisme
fanatic in Japanese: 熱狂
fanatic in Uzbek: Mutaassiblik
fanatic in Polish: Fanatyzm
fanatic in Portuguese: Fanatismo
fanatic in Romanian: Fanatism
fanatic in Russian: Фанатизм
fanatic in Slovak: Fanatizmus
fanatic in Finnish: Fanaattisuus
fanatic in Swedish: Fanatism
fanatic in Ukrainian: Фанатизм

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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