- Contending that a matter of opinion is authoritative or irrefutable
- Inflexibility or refusal to alter one's views in light of argumentation or facts that challenge held beliefs
While, in general, people tend to identify strongly with their beliefs, we all know that one person who is a little too pushy with their opinions. Whether it's a new boss who insists there is only one way to finish your work or that friend who avails themselves of every opportunity to proselytize their political beliefs, we all run into people who take their personal philosophies especially seriously. When one advances individual ideas that emphatically, one crosses from being a faithful adherent to dogmatic.
The word dogmatic illustrates a subjective idea that is put forward as unequivocally true. Though it is most commonly used in relation to religion or politics, where personal beliefs tend to be most rigidly held, dogmatic can apply to ideas of any sort. When said of a person, it describes someone who is adamant that their view on a debatable subject is incontrovertible. Used in this way, dogmatic is usually accompanied by some context to clarify the matter which the individual purports to be true. An opinion or concept, itself, can also be characterized as dogmatic when it is offered up as the only proper view on a topic where multiple alternatives exist. In either of these cases, though, dogmatic shows the ideologically motivated mischaracterization of a debatable issue as resolved or uncontroversial.
Example: He was so dogmatic about the centrality of nuts to a healthy diet that he refused to change when faced with research discouraging nut consumption.
Example: The superiority of Macs was such a dogmatic notion to her that she didn't even consider other brands when it came time to replace her old one.
When dogmatic was first appropriated for English use in the early 17th century, it actually took noun form, describing philosophers or doctors who based their practices on reasoning rather than experience. This derived from the Latin dogmaticus and, before that, the Greek dogmatikos, meaning "relating to doctrines." Dogmatikos comes from the root word dogma, which itself traces to the Greek word dokein, which means "to seem good" or "to believe." The English noun was adapted into an adjective sometime in the mid- to late-17th century.
Dogmatically: This adverb describes the refusal to entertain other schools of thought pertaining to the present action.
Example: He dogmatically walked the same route he always did to school, uninterested in the faster path cutting across the park.
Dogmaticalness: This alternative adjective form of dogmatic can be used comparatively to imply points on a spectrum of resistance to entertaining other views on an issue.
Example: He exhibited so much dogmaticalness in expressing his political views on Twitter that he started to lose followers.
Dogmatism: This noun denotes the quality of viewing one's belief on debatable subjects as unmistakably true. Additionally, it implies that the holder of this belief has not weighed contrary arguments or evidence regarding their view.
Example: The dogmatism of climate change deniers has gone a long way to hamper the actions of environmental activists to progress toward more sustainable ecological practices.
From Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love:
Traditionally, I have responded to the transcendent mystics of all religions. I have always responded with breathless excitement to anyone who has ever said that God does not live in a dogmatic scripture or in a distant throne in the sky, but instead abides very close to us indeed - much closer than we can imagine, breathing right through our own hearts.
Gilbert expresses here how she does not view or practice her spirituality in the rigidly narrow, or dogmatic, sense of any single religion, but by looking for it in everyday life all around her.
- Dogmatic beliefs want their acceptance to be automatic.
- Some dog people are dogmatic in preferring dogs over cats.
Bring out the linguist in you! What is your own interpretation of dogmatic. Did you use dogmatic in a game? Provide an example sentence or a literary quote.