I'm looking for a word that refers to the set of common beliefs of a culture or era. Things like "psychics aren't reliable" or "flying is safer than driving." These are empirical propositions that lots of people believe and there may be a common understanding that others believe them too.

Something like "zeitgeist" is very good. I'd like to be able to say "The understanding that bees are dying out is in the ____" and it works pretty well there. My only issue with zeitgeist here is that i'd like it to refer primarily to the empirical claims, rather than the more general culture, attitude, and values of the people.

Something like "common knowledge" isn't quite right because things that are common knowledge are usually assumed by the speaker to be correct (except when using the term ironically) -- but I don't want to address the actual truth value of the propositions. And I'd like it to express that there might be a certain amount of cultural dependence about the beliefs -- not something like "you need water to live."

  • 'Scientific consensus'?
    – Mitch
    Commented Apr 16, 2016 at 23:10
  • 1
    I considered "the spirit of the age" as used by Anne Rice in The Vampire Chronicles. annerice.com/Bookshelf-Interview.html But it seems a bit too close to zeitgeist, and in fact is a direct translation. Also it is not as empirical as OP asked for. But for the record here's the centurys-old immortal talking to the new : Armand: “You are the spirit [of the age] Louis: "I'm not the spirit of any age. I’m at odds with everything and always have been! I have never belonged anywhere with anyone at any time!” Armand: “This is the very spirit of your age... You reflect its broken heart.”
    – k1eran
    Commented Apr 17, 2016 at 0:22
  • I heard that word in my english class Commented Jan 31, 2020 at 23:25

2 Answers 2


orthodoxy -

a belief or a way of thinking that is accepted as true or correct

I also thought of tacit assumptions and presuppositions if orthodoxy is a word too strong for what you're seeking.

The mild connotation of orthodox would be the antonym of unorthodox. That is, orthodoxy is the usual beliefs, while anything unorthodox is an unusual belief. I say that orthodox may seem too strong because it carries a meaning akin to fundamentalist in some regards.

Similar is canon/canonical.


You are probably looking for lore:

  • A body of traditions and knowledge on a subject or held by a particular group, typically passed from person to person by word of mouth: the jinns of Arabian lore, baseball lore.


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