Example sentence: Racism was a ____ in the Elizabethan Era.

I'm looking for a word/phrase that works with "breaking". I was considering "social norms" but it doesn't really mean what I want it to convey.

Even if it doesn't work with "breaking", I'd be happy to hear your suggestions anyway!

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – tchrist
    Aug 23, 2017 at 15:12

5 Answers 5


Perhaps not fully applicable, but zeitgeist should get a nod:

zeitgeist (noun, often capitalized) | zeit·geist \ˈtsīt-ˌgīst, ˈzīt-\

The general intellectual, moral, and cultural climate of an era


The Zeitgeist of the Elizabethan Era included an acceptance of racism.


  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeitgeist
  2. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/zeitgeist
  • Wish I'd seen this before submitting my speech. It's a nice word regardless. Thanks!
    – mike
    Aug 22, 2017 at 2:32

Perhaps "widely accepted worldview"

A comprehensive world view or worldview is the fundamental cognitive orientation of an individual or society encompassing the entirety of the individual's or society's knowledge and point of view. A world view can include natural philosophy; fundamental, existential, and normative postulates; or themes, values, emotions, and ethics.[1] The term is a calque of the German word Weltanschauung [ˈvɛlt.ʔanˌʃaʊ.ʊŋ], composed of Welt ('world') and Anschauung ('view' or 'outlook').[2] The German word is also used in English.

(From Wikipedia)


In your example above, assuming you want to say that racism started to appear in the Elizabethan era, in itself very debatable, then 'emergent idea' would fit;

'Racism was an emergent idea in the Elizabethan era.'

Maybe you are trying to say that racism was first acknowledged as a thing in these time?

In which case 'Racism, as a concept, ....'

You might want to raise another question as to whether 'era' gets a capital 'E' in this usage ;-)

  • Thanks for your answer, but that's not really what I wanted to say. I'm not talking about the beginning of racism; I'm just saying that it was accepted at the time
    – mike
    Aug 21, 2017 at 13:45
  • then 'breaking' doesn't really fit. 'became normative' perhaps? Are you trying to say it was accepted then but not before (unlikely) or just that it was unchallenged?
    – Chris Pink
    Aug 21, 2017 at 13:50
  • The idea is that it's difficult to challenge - "...is easier than breaking ___"
    – mike
    Aug 21, 2017 at 14:01

How about norm?


norm: A principle of right action binding upon the members of a group and serving to guide, control, or regulate proper and acceptable behavior

Your example:

Racism was a norm in the Elizabethan Era.


ascendant: "moving upward" M-W

Racism was ascendant in the Elizabethan Era.

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